What is Crimeware

What is Crimeware

Crimeware, perhaps one of the more self-explanatory terms, is a class of malware designed specifically to facilitate and enable cybercrime. Typically, crimeware is designed to perpetrate identify theft in order to access a computer user's data, be it financial or otherwise, and subsequently misappropriate the data for financial gain. Alternatively, crimeware may also steal sensitive corporate information and hold the data ransom.


Unlike spyware or adware, crimeware is always illicit and can ultimately deploy any number of techniques to steal user information. Some of these methods include:

  • Installing keystroke loggers to collect sensitive data—login and password information for online bank accounts, for example—and report them back to the thief.
  • Redirecting a user's web browser to a counterfeit website controlled by the thief even when the user types the website's proper domain name in the address bar
  • Stealing passwords cached on a user's system.
  • Hijacking a user session at a financial institution and drain the account without the user's knowledge.
  • Enabling remote access into applications, allowing criminals to break into networks for malicious purposes. (Source)


 Evidently quite harmful, crimeware can have serious ramifications if not dealt with quickly or cleanly enough. Consequences can include:

  • Compromised PII
  • Data theft
  • Financial losses via stolen passwords
  • Encrypting data and holding it hostage, then demanding a financial ransom
  • System slowdowns, errors in operating systems, and other losses of productivity
  • Identity theft or misappropriation (Source)

There are two common and principal delivery vectors for crimeware: security vulnerability exploits and social engineering attacks.


Security Exploits

Security vulnerabilities can be exploited to inject crimeware into systems without the end user noticing; some of these common exploits include internet worms and web browser vulnerabilities. These forms of delivery can surreptitiously install and execute crimeware undetected which makes these types of attacks very dangerous.


Social Engineering

Equally dangerous, and just as common, are social engineering attacks. In the same way phishing attempts can trick the target into clicking on a malicious link, actors can likewise fool the target into downloading crimeware into their own system. Common examples include threats arriving disguised as valid e-mail messages including specific company information and sender addressees.  


Unfortunately, there is no surefire way to protect yourself and your system from targeted or haphazard crimeware attacks. However, there are certainly best-practices which, when undertaken properly and routinely, can drastically lower your risk. Some of these best practices include:

  • Regularly reviewing the effectiveness of current security policies and procedures
  • Reviewing users’ remote access to systems, servers, firewalls, and other external network connections
  • Keeping computer systems updated with the latest software patches
  • Enforcing a strong password policy
  • Training employees to recognize common crimeware attacks
  • Enabling two-factor authentication (Source)

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