A Remote Access Trojan is malicious software designed to allow attackers to monitor and control a computer system or network remotely.
This type of malware can give an attacker complete control of your system. Remote Access Trojans (RATs) can also be used for deception purposes by hackers. Current RAT malware can avoid strong authentication and access sensitive applications that can be used to exfiltrate information to cybercriminal-controlled servers and websites.
The most common RATs are used for malicious activity such as stealing information from the victim's machine, spying on them, sending spam emails, among other uses. The primary purpose of this type of malware is to steal data stored in the infected device by using keyloggers, screen recorders, webcam spies, file encryptors, and password crackers.
A well-known case of a trojan involved the Stuxnet worm, which targeted Iran's nuclear facilities. When the worm attacked its target, it secretly installed itself onto computers connected to the facility. Once it had done so, it began monitoring all activity within the facility. Doing so could learn what equipment needed repair, who worked where, and whether uranium enrichment centrifuges were operating correctly.
How are Remote Access Trojans Useful to Hackers?
Hackers use RATs because they provide several advantages over traditional hacking techniques. For instance, some Remote Access Trojans come with built-in encryption algorithms, making it impossible for law enforcement agencies to trace back any stolen files to the hacker. Another advantage of Remote Access Trojans is that they make it easy for hackers to hide while performing attacks. They do not need to leave traces behind like typical viruses would. Another reason why hackers prefer Remote Access Trojans instead of regular viruses is because they're much easier to deploy than conventional methods. With Remote Access Trojans, hackers only need one single piece of malware to infect thousands of machines.
How do you avoid RATs?
There are several ways to protect yourself from being affected by RATs malware. Two basic ways are keeping up with latest security updates and only using trusted third-party software vendors. Also, make sure not to download any suspicious files from unknown sites. Always check out the source URL before downloading anything.
If you suspect that someone might try to hack into your network, change your passwords and notify your security team immediately. Use different combinations of letters, numbers, symbols, and special characters. Avoid reusing old passwords because people tend to reuse them over time.