What is RAT software?
RAT stands for Remote Administration Tool or Remote Access Tool.
RAT software has legitimate uses such as remote tech support, but in the context of this article we are going to talk about the malicious uses: RAT as malware.
RAT malware is software that is installed on your computer allowing an unauthorised person the ability to remotely control some aspects of your computer.
How does RAT software get installed?
Malicious RAT software is installed using traditional malware installation tactics. Either by tricking the user into clicking on a link inside an email or on a web site, or by hiding it in other software available as an internet download or via file sharing software.
What can RAT malware do?
There are many reasons why an unauthorised person may wish to have remote access to your computer.
Here are just a few:
- To access your files
- To steal financial information or identity details
- To use your computer to carry out attacks on other computers
- To access your webcam
- To install a virus or other malware
- To store illegal files
Once installed the malicious RAT software hides itself in your computer to prevent detection and enables remote access to your computer for its owner. Some RATs also scan your computer looking for specific files or data to send back to its owner or to carry out some other task such as switching on your webcam and making the feed available on the internet.
How do I check if I have RAT software installed?
Malicious RAT software is just one of the many catagories of malicious software that is tracked and targeted by anti-malware vendors, so make sure that you have good anti-malware and anti-virus software installed and that it is up to date. Run a full system scan regularly for peace of mind, just in case anything got through.
Unauthorised RAT software is used by hackers to gain control of a remote computer. It is also used by hackers and penetration testers that have been legally recruited to test the security of a system. Due to their popularity RAT software is constantly evolving and there are many different types available. So make sure you have a good firewall, ant-virus and anti-malware software installed, and don't click on links in emails or on web pages that you are unsure about, and do not install software you did not go looking for and always virus scan downloaded files before using them.
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Article date: 28th April 2013