Top 6 most dangerous computer viruses of 2016

In 2016 cyber criminals proved us that there’s no safe place on the Internet anymore. From browser hijackers and adware programs to Trojans and ransomware viruses – the broad spectrum of the computer infections have been hiding under infected links, email attachments or in software packages waiting for the naïve computer users to make a false click. Sadly, some computer infections are still undefeatable, and they will definitely cause more damage next year. Therefore, we should pay more attention to cyber security[1]. At the end of 2016, most of us look back and think about achieved goals and memories this year. Lots of our precious and valuable moments of life have settled in computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones and social media. Before revealing the six most dangerous viruses of 2016, we want to remind you to backup all your memories because, in 2017, they might be taken to hostage and evaluated with an enormous amount of money. We all should write one more New Year’s resolution – to pay more attention to the online safety.

6. Delta-homes virus. This potentially unwanted program[2] deserves to be on this list as the most bothersome browser hijacker[3] of the year. This program pretends to be a legitimate search engine; however, it gets inside the computers secretly with the help of other free programs and then takes full control over the targeted browser. The purpose of the Delta-homes hijacker is to deliver sponsored third-party links and trick victims into visiting shady domains. The main concern about this virus is that it redirects users to the potentially dangerous websites where people might catch serious computer infections or reveal their personal details for the untrustworthy people. Cyber security specialists agree with the victims – this browser hijacker is hard to remove.

5. DNS Unlocker adware. It’s the most famous and annoying adware[4] program of 2016. Of course, the damage caused by the potentially unwanted programs cannot be compared to ransomware attacks; however, in this cyber infection category, DNS Unlocker virus has won the first place. This PUP infects iOS, Max OS X, and Android devices and delivers an excessive amount of ads promoting PC optimizers and various Repair tools. Aggressive pop-ups and banners fill the browsers and make them crash or freeze. Two times updated DNS Unlocker PUP spreads using questionable software marketing strategy called ‘bundling.’ Compared to other adware programs, DNS Unlocker removal might be a challenge.

4. Facebook virus. Social networks play the significant and important role in our lives. So, there’s no surprise that cybercriminals decided to use social media for the cyber crimes. Malicious activities on Facebook has been spotted on 2014, but this year the situation became even worse. We have seen several version of this virus such as Facebook video virus, Facebook Suspension virus[5], and ‘Your page will be unpublished’ virus[6] that caused havoc on this social network. All variants try to steal Facebook credentials and hack the accounts.

3. Android virus. For a while, this malware targeted various Android device in different ways and techniques. However, on February 2016 security specialists noticed a new threatening version of the Android malware spreading via text messages. Mostly this malware tries to steal some personal details, logins, and passwords, get access to the credit card information, etc. There’s no surprise that malware tries to stay unnoticed and undetected as long as possible; however, the signs of infection are evident. The device slows down, victims notice suspicious alerts and redirects, and sometimes the telephone bill increases a lot.

2. Cerber virus. Cerber is one of the most notorious and hazardous ransomware viruses that appeared and widely spread in 2016. The two first attempts to create undefeatable file-encrypting virus was ruined by malware researcher who managed to find some flaws in ransomware’s code and launched a decryption tool. However, failure was a motivation for the cyber criminals, and they upgraded malware several times. Malware targets the broad spectrum of file types and encrypts them using strong AES algorithm. Unfortunately, none of the latest Cerber’s versions are decryptable. The developers put lots of effort to the virus evolution and paid specific attention for developing new ways for malware distribution. Cerber virus not only uses classic ransomware distribution method – malicious spam emails – but also started spreading using Tor2Web proxies and Google redirects[7].

1. Locky virus. When malware researchers spotted Locky ransomware, they didn’t believe that it would become the most dangerous virus of 2016. Since the appearance at the beginning of the year, malware has been updated numerous times and never stopped competing with Cerber for the fame. While Cerber’s developers were loyal to their name; Locky’s developers has been studying Norse mythology and looked at malware development in a more creative way. The main distribution campaigns have been and still are held via infected spam email attachments. Victims receive a fake email informing about the necessity to open attached Word document. Opened document asks to enable Macro commands, and when a victim does that, he or she lets malware inside. However, relying on emails is not enough – exploit kits such as RIG, Bizarro Sundown, and Nemucod help to spread malware as well. One of the latest significant features in malware distribution is that it started spreading on Facebook[8].

The list of viruses might be extended with several variants of Cerber and Locky viruses, various tech support scams, and other threatening ransomware. We have a feeling that next year we might see how far malware developers will go. The success of the infamous ones inspires young hackers to work harder and become as great as they are. However, the leaders are not planning to retire as well. The truth is sad; we can expect even more cyber crimes on 2017.

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Olivia Morelli
Olivia Morelli

Malware analyst...

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