In terms of cybersecurity, the phrase backdoor refers to a wide range of methods by which unauthorised or authorised users can circumnavigate standard security measures to obtain high level user access (also known as root access) to a dedicated computer network, system or application. After they have gained access, a cybercriminal can use the backdoor for a variety of insidious activities. These include stealing personal data and financial credentials, installing additional malware and hijacking devices.

It’s worth noting that backdoors are not solely employed by threat operators. Backdoors are also installed by hardware and software manufacturers to provide a deliberate way of accessing their technology. Non-criminal backdoors are sometimes used to help customers who are locked out of their machines or for troubleshooting and fixing software problems.

Attributes of backdoor malware

As mentioned, backdoors end up on devices due to intentional manufacturing or via an attack. Backdoor malware is typically categorised as a Trojan. Trojans are a malicious computer programs masquerading as a legitimate piece of software or app but designed to deliver malware, steal data or open a backdoor on a computer system. Just like the Greek legend after which it was named, a Trojan (or Trojan horse) malware always contains an unwelcome surprise designed to penetrate defence systems and infiltrate a secure space.

Trojans are an exceptionally versatile tool for cybercriminals and come in many guises. Trojans can take the form of a seemingly harmless email attachment or an infected app ready for download in an online store and can deliver multiple kinds of malware threat.

To exacerbate the issue, Trojans often exhibit worm-like capabilities to duplicate and then spread laterally to other vital systems without additional commands being required by their creators.

Backdoor malware at work

In one instance of backdoor malware, threat operators hid malware within a file converter application offered for free. However, the app was not designed for conversion, instead it was built to open a backdoor in systems. Other examples of backdoor malware can be found when cybercriminals hide their solutions inside tools used to pirating software from verified applications, but other instance involved authentic apps being mimicked, like CoinTicker for cryptocurrency users.

If cybercriminals gain a foothold in the system, they can deploy a rootkit. Rootkits are malware packages designed specifically to avoid detection and hide internet activity from both users and operating systems. They give attackers persistent access to the infected systems. Effectively, a rootkit ensures that the backdoor stays open and the system remains vulnerable.

Stay safe with the Galaxkey workspace

While backdoors can be useful in some instances, the risks they represent make them a liability for system and data security. If an attacker gains access via a backdoor it can quickly lead to a dedicated data breach, stolen information or the start of an insidious ransomware assault. To combat these issues, at Galaxkey we have designed a secure workspace for enterprise and government employees to work safely with zero backdoors that attackers can exploit.

For a free two-week trial, contact us today.