Metamorphic Virus

What Is A Metamorphic Virus?

Helga Smith

A metamorphic virus is a kind of malware that can change its own code and signature patterns with every iteration. The authors of metamorphic viruses apply such techniques as to disguise the malicious code in a way it won’t get detected by antivirus and antimalware programs. Additionally it is done to create the attribution of the malware more difficult. 

Metamorphic viruses are regarded as the more advanced cyber threat than typical malware or for example the polymorphic virus. But even though it constantly changes its code the function of the virus remains the same. The longer the malware stays in a computer or device the more iterations it does. With every time each iteration gets increasingly complicated. 

Features of Metamorphic Virus

The virus completely rewrites its code with every propagation and this makes it nearly impossible for any antivirus solution to detect, quarantine or eliminate the threat.

With every propagated distribution the virus automatically does a record of itself thus removing any type of signature traditionally looked for by systems. The metamorphic virus uses different code transformation techniques including:

  • Garbage code insertion;
  • Code shrinkage;
  • Code expansion;
  • Code permutation;
  • Register renaming.

How Does Metamorphic Virus Work

This kind of malware takes the virus mutation to another level. The virus has Pine Tree State to change each VDR ( virus secret writing routine) and subsequently EVB ( encrypted virus body). 

The Pine Tree State does the disassemblement of the code and represents it with a meta language that shows how the code performs but doesn’t not take into consideration how the code archives its performance. 

As a result a new code on the Pine Tree State tip appears to have no similarity to its original syntax. But the functionality is equivalent.

The Examples Of Metamorphic Virus

The most notable examples of metamorphic viruses will include:

  • Zmist. First time cybersecurity specialists discovered the virus within the early 2000s. It was created by a Russian author known as Z0mbie. Zmist was also known for successful avoidance of different detection methods;
  • Virlock. In 2016 the ransomware variant under the name of Virlock came onto the scene. The virus possessed an inherent metamorphic code generator that created a singular algorithmic program for every individual copy of the virus. 

How To Detect Metamorphic Virus

Of course, metamorphic viruses are much more difficult to detect but this doesn’t necessarily mean they are completely undetectable. To prevent the infection users should implement the following steps against the threat:

  • To enable email content filtering and file scanning at the server’s level;
  • To use network and personal firewalls with unused service ports closed;
  • Constant monitoring at end-user and server levels;
  • Regular update of antivirus software;
  • To enable remote access restrictions;
  • To set a well defined and effective set of security policies.

How To Know If I Have Metamorphic Virus

To deal with the problem successfully first you need to acknowledge that you have it. In case of a computer virus the sooner you do this the better.

NOTE: Computer network security, information security, individual computer security – all these parts of cybersecurity are very large and necessary for understanding whether you use a computer for your activities.

Here’s the general signs that you might actually have the metamorphic virus on your computer and that might mean you need to do something as soon as possible to prevent further damage to your cybersecurity wellbeing:

  • You noticed that your homepage has changed;
  • Unfamiliar to you programs have appeared on the computer;
  • You started to have an increasing number of pop up ads on any website you visit;
  • You also started to experience unexpected and frequent  crashes of the system;
  • Your computer has slowed down.

How To Prevent Metamorphic Virus Infection

Now the best solution would be to avoid the infection in the first place. The old saying goes “It’s better to prevent the problem than deal with it“. Read the several tips on how to stay away from the metamorphic virus and not to endanger yourself with it:

  • Use an antivirus solution. This is the tip that is more like a mandatory rule for today’s digital world. You can even say this type of program is your first line of defense against any cyber threats lurking out there in the depths of the internet. Buy yourself good antivirus solution to ensure your cyber security and safety;
  • Make it a habit to always scan all your email attachments. Especially if it’s kind of an email you instantly have some suspicion about. Something that looks “too good to be true”, but at the same time might be a legit email from your work colleague who sent you an email with yearly report as an attachment;
  • Don’t visit suspicious websites. The rule to look for if the site is suspicious when it doesn’t have the Https connection in the address bar of your browser. If it’s just http it means the connection might not be safe for you to work with the site. Don’t click on such sites on anything or don’t make any downloads from it;
  • Make regular backups of your computer. Cause you never know when that time comes and you suddenly have your files encrypted by some ransomware. But not only ransomware that is out there after your data there’s more viruses that cyber criminals use to hunt your info than the actual number of ransomware variants existing in the world.

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