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What is Backdoor and How Can We Protect Ourselves from Backdoor Virus Attacks?

A backdoor is a means often employed by hackers, governments, IT people to get remote access to your device without your knowledge or consent. Backdoors can be installed on your system through malware that exploits your security vulnerabilities. It can also be directly installed in your system’s hardware/firmware. Using backdoors, hackers and cybercriminals can use your device for surveillance, theft, cryptojacking, sabotage, malware attack, and more. 

A backdoor can be installed by software and hardware developers for remote tech support purposes. Nevertheless, in most cases, backdoors are installed by cybercriminals or governments to gain access to your device, network, or software. Any malware that provides hackers with access to your system can be categorized as a backdoor. This includes rootkits, trojans, spyware, cryptojackers, keyloggers, worms, and ransomware.

How does Backdoor Function?

To install backdoors on your system, cybercriminals, hackers, and miscreants need to access your device. They can either gain access to your device physically or exploit your system’s security measures through malware. Some of the most common ways for hackers to get access to your system include open ports, weak passwords, out-of-date software or programs, weak firewalls, etc.

Hackers who install backdoors on your system through software use malware to take advantage of your software vulnerabilities to gain access to your system. 

Here are some of the different kinds of backdoors that are frequently used:

Trojans

Trojans are malicious files that are guided under legitimate files to gain access to your system. Once you allow a trojan in your system, it installs itself into your computer and allows hackers to access your files, programs or install more malicious files on your device.

Rootkits

Rootkits are a more developed malware that can hide its activities from the system’s operating system, which allows them security privileges. Rootkits can allow hackers to get access to your system, alter your files, observe your activity, and sabotage your device. Rootkits can take the form of software and even physically altered computer chips. 

Hardware backdoors

Hardware backdoors are modified computer chips, hardware, or firmware that provide non-users access to your device. Hardware backdoors can include phones, USB drives, IoT devices, routers, and computers. Similar to other malware, hardware backdoors can communicate user data, provide remote access, or be used for surveillance. 

Cryptographic backdoors

These are basically the master key that can be used to unlock every piece of encrypted data. Cryptographic backdoors can decrypt end-to-end encryption to read the information being shared. 

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Examples of Backdoor Attacks

DoublePulsar Cryptojacker

IN 2017, DoublePulsare Cryptojacker was found to be used to monitor Windows PCs and installing a cryptojacker on computers with sufficient memory and CPU power. The malware was originally developed by the NSA, the National Security Agency of the United States. It was used to steal the processing power of computers to mine Bitcoin, secretly joining thousands of PCs into a massive crypto-mining botnet.

Dual_EC (NSA Cryptographic Backdoor)

Dual_EC is a cryptographic protocol that employs a mathematical formula called elliptic curve to generate complex random numbers to encrypt user data. Dual_EC also has a backdoor, which means it can be decrypted by professionals with a secret key. While NSA pushed a number of large companies to adopt Dual_EC as their main cryptographic protocol, in 2013, Snowden leaked data that proved that NSA was in possession of secret keys, which they used to decrypt Dual_EC and read the information being shared. Companies like Blackberry, RSA, Microsoft, Cisco, among others, made use of Dual_EC in a variety of products, which made millions of users in possession of these products vulnerable to surveillance by the NSA.

PoisonTap

PoisonTap is a backdoor malware that allows users to get access to almost any website you have logged into, including the ones that require two-factor authentication. PoisonTap can only be installed by plugging an infected Raspberry Pi into your system. This malware was developed by Samy Kamkar and has not been used in a widespread attack.

backdoor virus attack and how to prevent ourself
Image by 200 Degrees from Pixabay 

Are you Vulnerable to Backdoor Attacks?

No one is immune to backdoor attacks. We have a number of vulnerabilities and weak points in our system, network, accounts, software, and IoT devices that can be exploited by hackers to plant backdoors in our system.

Legitimate backdoors

Hidden backdoors are intentionally installed by software developers to provide them remote access so they can perform legitimate functions such as customer support or resolving software issues. Most companies include backdoors in their systems with complete security protection to avoid foul play.

Open network ports

Since an open network accepts traffic from remote locations, it can be used as a vulnerability by hackers. Hackers use network ports to access your device and install backdoors in your system. While this might not be a problem for home users as most router ports are closed by default, tech-savvy people should beware about what ports they keep open. 

Weak passwords

Weak passwords can give hackers immediate access to your accounts, which allows them to get further into your various accounts as well. 

Out of date software

Out-of-date software is one of the prime targets of hackers to install backdoors into your system. Since out-of-date software doesn’t receive security patches from the parent company anymore, it can be an easy target for hackers and cybercriminals. 

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How to Save Yourself from Backdoor Attacks?

There are a few ways you can ensure that you don’t become a victim of backdoor attacks. These methods include:

Using an antivirus

Proper antivirus software protects you from malware and virus attacks and keeps your device safe from cyberattacks. Most antivirus software can detect and get rid of a wide range of malware, including trojans, cryptojackers, rootkits, and spyware. Antivirus can also detect backdoor viruses and remove them before they can infect your computer, and If you are having issues regarding antivirus, You can also talk to antivirus support through email, call, or live chat and record your complaint with them.

Be wary of what you download

Backdoors often come with legitimate-looking software, files, and applications. While downloading files from the internet, make sure you are only getting what you asked for, and there are no unnecessary additional files tagging along. Avoid downloading from pirate sites and only use a legitimate website to download your files. 

Use a firewall

Firewalls keep track of all the incoming and outgoing traffic on your device. Therefore they are essential in protection against backdoor malware. Firewalls work by blocking unapproved networks trying to get into your device. Firewalls also block the apps that try to send data out to an unknown network location.

Advanced firewalls can also detect unauthorized backdoor traffic even when your system fails to detect it.

Use a password manager

Password manages to generate strong passwords for all your accounts and help you log in to them easily. They keep all password data locked and encrypted using 256-bit AES encryption. 

Keep your security updated

Most hackers recycle and modify the same exploits and malware because it’s cheap and easy. With the latest security patch updates, you can keep such attacks and bay and stay safe. Keep your device on auto-update and make sure to use the latest version of all the software.

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