Updated · Mar 17, 2023
List of Linux Malware and Threats to Be Aware of in 2023!
Updated · Feb 24, 2023
If you use a Linux machine for your personal and/or business needs, you might believe you are safe from malware and other digital threats. But that’s far from the truth since Linux-based digital threats are on the rise in 2023!
Is Linux malware common, then? While not widespread as the malicious software developed for Windows, the rate at which Linux threats are spreading is worrisome, at the least!
To learn more, check out this list of Linux malware and threats to be aware of in 2023!
Is Linux Malware on the Rise?
Although the Linux platform makes up for just 1% of the total operating system space, it was still the target of over 1.9 million threats in 2022 (a YoY increase of almost 50%), according to data published by Atlas VPN in January 2023.
The most prevalent malware included ransomware, botnets, and cryptojacking. Also, the vast majority of these new threats (almost 1.7 million) were detected in the first half of 2022, after which interest in developing Linux malware plummeted.
However, despite the rise of Linux malware threats, the overall number of digital threats across all platforms dropped 39%, from 121.6 million to 73.7 million. For instance, Windows, the most targeted OS, experienced a 40% decline in threats.
These numbers suggest that malicious attackers have started viewing Linux as a worthwhile target in recent years since an increasing number of businesses have started relying on this inherently-safe platform for their day-to-day operations.
Malware Threats for Linux-Based Operating Systems
Is Linux easily hacked? Well, while writing malware that infects Linux machines is not as easy as it is for other operating systems, malicious groups have redoubled their efforts to do so since a large number of high-profit organizations have adopted Linux.
Therefore, despite the common misconception that Linux machines are safe from malware, the following types of digital threats are spreading at an increased rate on Linux devices:
The latest and most dangerous Linux ransomware threatening to block access to and publish its victims’ data unless they pay a ransom is RansomExx.
Operated by a cybercriminal group since 2018, RansomExx made its notorious name in 2020, when it was responsible for a number of high-profile cyberattacks.
However, in the last couple of years, RansomExx was adapted to attack Linux servers, especially those in the U.S., Canada, and Brazil.
RansomExx’s attack strategy typically uses the IcedID trojan to infiltrate the victim’s device, the Vatet loader to deliver the malware, and Pyxie and Cobalt Strike as tools to gather the necessary data after the intrusion takes place.
You’ve probably heard of ‘botnets’—a network of malware-infected private computers that attackers use remotely without the owners’ knowledge to execute DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks to flood other servers and shut them down.
One of the biggest threats Linux users face today is XORDDoS—a Linux-based trojan with rootkit capabilities that uses many private machines to launch DDoS attacks.
Despite existing since 2014, XORDDoS has tripled in activity in 2022 since attackers can use it on any Linux architecture, including ARM, x86, and x64.
This specific malware derives its name from the XOR encryption it uses while infiltrating cloud infrastructures and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Once it employs them in its service, XORDDoS disrupts the target’s network to deploy other destructive malware.
Similar to a botnet threat, cryptojacking also involves the unauthorized use of digital devices, such as smartphones, tablets, servers, and personal computers, for nefarious purposes.
However, unlike botnets and ransomware, cryptojacking only uses the computational power of other people’s hardware to mine cryptocurrency. In most cases, users don’t even notice they have been hacked since cryptojacking software works in the background.
Threat groups like TeamTNT target Linux-based cloud and container environments across the globe to fund their malicious activities with the help of advanced remote access trojans such as the CHAOS Remote Administrative Tool (RAT).
Rootkits are a rather devious type of malware that cannot be detected easily as they hide in plain sight. Their purpose is to allow attackers to install a set of digital tools that help them gain full admin access to the target machine.
The Syslogk Linux rootkit is the latest threat wreaking havoc on Linux machines. While it was discovered in June 2022, Syslogk is still under development, and it is based on Adore-Ng—an older open-source rootkit that was updated to target the Linux Kernel 3.x.y
When it comes to the damage it can do, the Syslogk kernel rootkit easily injects its modules into the kernel, hide its processes, traffic, and directories, and load backdoors.
Top 3 Antivirus Programs for Linux
Not long ago, Linux users could go without AV software since threat groups preferred targeting the ubiquitous Windows, Android, and Apple platforms.
Alas, things have gotten much worse ever since the number of businesses and individual users with Linux machines has slowly but steadily increased—a fact that prompted malicious groups to start focusing their efforts on creating Linux malware.
Because of that, protecting your devices and information with a proper Linux-based antivirus has become a priority. Below we list three such excellent options:
1. Bitdefender GravityZone
As part of their business solutions, Bitdefender’s GravityZone line of AV products offers both on-premises and cloud AV protection for all operating systems out there, from most Linux distros (Ubuntu, Red Hat, CentOS, SUSE, Fedora, Debian, etc.) to Windows and macOS.
However, these Bitdefender products are not meant for individual customers as they are business-oriented, and enterprises get complete all-in-one security for all their devices, from physical and virtual workstations to servers and mobile devices.
While the available features vary depending on the chosen subscription, businesses can expect everything from risk analytics and real-time protection to device control, firewall, process inspector, automatic threat removal, and sandbox analysis.
2. Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Linux
Like Bitdefender, Kaspersky’s Home Products are incompatible with Linux, so you must check out their business Endpoint Security products.
While Kaspersky offers different packages depending on the size of the enterprise, their typical go-to offer is Endpoint Security for Business, as it includes most of what you will need to protect a hybrid IT environment with all kinds of machines.
The multi-layered Kaspersky protection works on almost every Linux platform available, and it reliably protects against the latest threats with minimal system impact.
You get real-time protection from zero-day attacks, network protection, web and anti-phishing security, ransomware protection, application startup control, and much more!
3. Avast Business Antivirus for Linux
With its Business Antivirus for Linux, Avast offers a cheaper and slightly less extensive AV coverage for Linux-based servers than the two options outlined above.
This reliable and high-performance security solution supports various 32-bit and 64-bit Linux distributions, from Red Hat to Debian and Ubuntu. That said, it also functions in hybrid dual-booted systems with other types of operating systems.
Also, unlike the two options above, Avast for Linux is a very lightweight AV with an imperceptible effect on system resources. With it, you get real-time anti-malware protection, regularly updated virus definitions, and clear and direct output for scanned files.
As demonstrated above, Linux users should tighten their cybersecurity since new digital threats made to wreak havoc on Linux systems are emerging daily. Thankfully, some of the best antivirus software solutions out there have already adapted their powerful antimalware scans to work just as well in a Linux environment as they do in Windows.
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