All You Need to Know About a Logic Bomb Malware Attack
Last Updated: February 3, 2021
The safety of computer systems and networks is a primary concern all over the world. The cybersecurity market continues to grow at a tremendous rate because information systems continue to be the central point for the storage and distribution of sensitive data.
Governments, organizations, and individuals are consistently pumping money into cybersecurity to ensure their data is kept secure on and off the internet. As security standards continue to increase with the aid of technology, hackers and malicious entities also continue to raise the bar. They keep creating new avenues and methods to combat the security architecture of their victims.
Malware is any form of malicious software designed to intentionally wreak havoc to information systems or gain unlawful entry to a computer or network and steal data. There are several popular forms of malware: worm, virus, spyware, trojan, and ransomware.
A logic bomb malware attack is a type of malware attack known for appearing impotent until a trigger goes off.
What Is a Logic Bomb Malware Attack?
A logic bomb is a malicious written set of instructions in a program or code that executes when a specific condition or set of conditions are met or triggered. Think of it as a time bomb, only that this time bomb is patiently waiting for an action or inaction at a specified time to activate.
Unhappy employees commonly use it because they have insider access to the company systems; it is easy for them to infect systems or networks without anyone knowing. Logic bombs are often one of the most dangerous types of malware because they look harmless and go unnoticed completely until the conditions for activation have been met.
They can do several things like deleting many files on your computer, changing settings on your device, installing other types of malware, resetting or clearing hard drives, and shutting down servers. A typical form of a logic bomb is a time-based one; it activates on an exact time and date. It usually is more challenging to deal with because it’s often too late by the time someone discovers it.
A famous recent example of a successful logic bomb malware attack is the Siemens incident. A contract software developer was guilty of purposely making the software he developed to stop working after some time to continue to be paid by the company for fixing the problem each time it happened. Siemens did not identify his logic bomb malware until after a couple of years.
How Does a Logic Bomb Malware Work?
The code typically consists of two parts: the trigger or set of conditions to meet and the payload. A traditional bomb needs something to initiate a sequence of actions that leads to the explosive materials in it blowing up. For example, a mine bomb will stay harmless until someone or something heavy enough to detonate it lands on the area around it; without that action, it remains dormant. The same basis is the idea behind a logic bomb.
The trigger is an essential piece of the code that renders the software harmful; without it, the payload can not deliver any destructive blows. It is the reason why the malware will continually look to see if its host has met the condition(s). There are two sorts of triggers: negative and positive.
Malware that executes due to fulfilled conditions has a positive one, while malware that runs when its conditions are not satisfied has a negative one. The deletion of files on your computer after installing and opening malicious software is an example of a positive one. When your hard drive wipes after someone enters the wrong password to access a stolen computer is an example of a negative one.
Here are several standard collective trigger methods for logic bomb malware:
1. Time and Date Trigger
In this case, the delivery of the payload is dependent on a specific time and date of the host system—for example, a malware designed to go off on the first day of a new year.
2. Countdown Trigger
Like a time bomb, this logic bomb trigger does not depend on its host’s clock but uses its clocking system. Although comparable to the first one, it is more challenging to set this up and disable it. In a time and date trigger, you can trick the malware by influencing your device’s clocking system; meanwhile, a countdown trigger does not depend on the device’s clock, so it is difficult to stop once it’s timer has been initiated.
3. Third-Party Trigger
Another way to set off a logic bomb malware is through another software or process. A couple of examples include installing or deleting software and inserting an external media device on your system.
4. Reset Trigger
This type relies on the malware owner or someone else with knowledge of how the malware works, stopping it from going off by resetting. It works in combination with the other types of triggers. A good example is an employee’s computer set to distribute malware on the network if he doesn’t log on every week.
5. Tracking Trigger
A monitoring trigger that checks for a change in the state of what it is tracking; once there is a change, it delivers the payload. An example is malware that runs if you change a particular system configuration setting or file permissions.
The second part of a logic bomb malware is the payload. A trigger executed without a payload is like pulling the trigger of an empty gun; both are equally crucial to the end purpose of the malware. The most dangerous part of the code is the payload. It goes on to do what it was programmed to do once the trigger executes it.
Are All Logic Bombs Bad?
A logic bomb malware is undoubtedly harmful, but it is only destructive because its payload has dangerous instructions to execute. It is not all logic bombs that contain malware, and certain forms of it are not harmful.
Companies that offer free trials to use their software or access a particular service will have programs or codes that they embed in the software to enable you to use it for a specific duration.
You will realize that after the number of days or weeks you are allowed to use, they rescind your access, or explicit features that are not free will no longer function. After the free trial, you have to pay if you want to continue using the software; after payment, the logic bomb is disabled.
Aside from the evil payload, a significant difference between a malicious logic bomb and a non-malicious one is the transparency a company, group of people, or individuals give you.
How To Prevent Logic Bombs Malware Attacks
Despite being hard to uncover, there are measures you can abide by to protect yourself from logic bomb malware attacks. Using different security layers combined can keep you safe, especially if one layer is not enough to stop an attack.
1. Use an Antivirus
An up-to-date antivirus is a vital requirement for all devices. With periodic deep scans, you can detect and prevent malware from affecting your devices. It should be your first layer of security against all forms of malware, including logic bombs. The essential features of antivirus are robust enough to be able to detect malware on your PC. You will need to spend some money if you want more robust features.
2. Always Update Your Operating System and Software
One way logic bomb malware or any form of malware can get into your device is by exploiting vulnerabilities in the operating system. Immediately you discover a new security patch or update is available for your operating system, install it. Applicable also to all software on your devices.
3. Avoid Pirated Software
Don’t download software from third-party sites except directed by the owner of the software. Hackers inject malware into legitimate software and give you easy access to them. It is common among people who want free or cracked software versions that you have to pay to use. Always download from reputable and trustworthy sources.
4. Be Cybersecurity Conscious
Understanding basic security gestures combined with other forms of protection will keep you safe from logic bomb malware. Essential cybersecurity tips like not clicking on shady links, unknown email attachments, and pop-ups about viruses can save you from getting malware.
Like a thief in the night, any form of logic bomb malware can slide unnoticed into your device and stay lifeless until all conditions for execution are met. This article gives you a deep understanding of what a logic bomb malware is, how it operates, and how to prevent yourself from being a victim. It is of vital importance that you protect your devices and yourself from all sorts of cyberattacks. No security layer guarantees absolute protection; this is why security experts recommend you use several layers simultaneously.