What are RATs?
RATs is the abbreviation for Remote Access Trojans
. This specific Trojan is a type of malware that allows an attacker to take control of a victim's computer remotely. RATs
have been around for many years and continue to be a significant threat to computer users.
Remote Access Trojan Definition.
A Remote Access Trojan (RAT) is malware whose primary aim is to gain full access over a user’s system, including mouse, keyboard, and webcam control, and network access, in order to silently browse all applications and files.
RATs on computers are problematic because once a cyber criminal has hacked into your device and gained control, they will also be able to bypass security measures
such as firewalls and intrusion detection
Remote Access Trojans (RATs) typically infect a system using social engineering techniques
, such as phishing emails
, infected software downloads, or malicious websites
. Once the malware has been installed, the attacker can use a remote control interface to interact with the victim's computer, essentially turning it into a botnet. The RAT malware
will provide the hacker with complete control over the victim's system, allowing them to perform a variety of tasks, including stealing sensitive data, keylogging, webcam monitoring, program installation and removal, file manipulation, and clipboard monitoring.
While legitimate remote-control software can be used to enable an administrator to control a device remotely (for example, many organizations will allow their IT departments to use remote desktop
software to support employees who work remotely), in typical fashion, cyber criminals have seized upon the idea of this software to use it for malicious purposes.
Remote Access Trojans are useful types of malware for hackers because they allow the RAT hacker to stealthily carry out their malicious activities without being noticed. In order to evade detection when employing RATs on computers, RAT hackers will create a hidden program, and use it when the victim is not in front of the device. The RAT hacker will then hide the program from view, or disguise it as a legitimate system file, such as in Windows Task Manager. This makes it much harder for the victim to detect and remove the malware from their system.
How Does RAT Malware Work?
Remote Access Trojans typically work by exploiting vulnerabilities in a victim's computer, allowing the attacker to gain access to the system. Once installed, the RAT will establish a connection between the attacker's computer and the victim's system, allowing the attacker to control the computer remotely.
RATs can be designed to be persistent, meaning they will remain active even after the victim restarts their computer. This is achieved by adding registry keys
or startup files that ensure the malware is launched every time the computer boots up.
What are the risks of RAT malware?
RATs on computers pose a significant threat to users, as they can be used for a variety of nefarious purposes. Some of the risks associated with RATs include:Data theft: RAT malware can steal sensitive data from a victim's computer, such as login credentials, financial information, and personal files.Cyber espionage: Using the keyboard and webcam, RATs can be used to monitor a victim’s activity, and gather sensitive information.Botnets: RATs can be used to turn a victim's computer into a botnet, which can then be used to carry out further attacks or spam campaigns.Damaged systems: RATs can be used to damage a victim's computer e.g. by deleting files or disabling essential system components.
RAT Cyber Security: How to protect against RATs
Protecting against RATs requires a combination of technical and behavioral measures. Some of the key steps that computer users can take to protect against RATs include:Software updates: Keeping software up-to-date is one of the most important steps in protecting against RATs. This includes updating the operating system (OS), web browser, and other software regularly.Use strong passwords: Strong passwords are an essential barrier in preventing attackers from gaining access to a victim's computer. Passwords should be at least eight characters long and include a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols. It is also recommended to use a Password Manager to help protect your passwords.Use antivirus software: Protect your devices against all types of malware, including remote access trojans, using antivirus software that can detect and remove RATs from a victim's computer. Act with caution: Avoid opening suspicious emails, do not download files from untrusted sources, and be careful when clicking on links or opening attachments.
How does RAV EDR protect against Remote Access Trojans?
Endpoint Detection & Response (EDR) solution utilizes various cybersecurity features that can help protect against Remote Access Trojans (RATs) and other types of malware. EDR provides multiple layers of defense against RATs and other malware, helping to prevent them from infecting and compromising endpoints within an organization's network.
RAV EDR’s behavioral and machine learning engine uses behavioral analysis
to detect and block RATs and other malware that may be exhibiting suspicious or malicious behavior, such as attempting to connect to unusual or unauthorized network locations. RAV EDR provides security tools to identify a device’s weakest intrusion points and learns how various types of malware operate. In the case of malicious RAT files, this includes:Webcam protection: To protect against RATs trying to access and control a device’s webcam, the web camera security feature monitors, alerts, and blocks all suspicious processes and applications that may try to access or manipulate your webcamMicrophone protection: To prevent RAT hackers from manipulating A device’s microphone, EDR provides a microphone protection layer, which monitors and alerts if any suspicious activity is occurring.
What to do if you suspect a RAT on your computer
If a user suspects their computer has been infected with a remote access Trojan (RAT), it's important to act quickly to prevent any further damage. Here are some steps to provide damage limitations:Disconnect the computer from the internet: This will prevent the RAT from communicating with the attacker's server and limit any more possible damageScan for malware: Use a reputable antivirus program to scan the device for malware. This may be able to detect and remove the RAT. Change all passwords: If a suspect has been compromised, it’s likely that all passwords have also been compromised. Enable 2FA: Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to a user’s account. Backup Data: Backing up any important data on your computer will help a victim recover from the attack more easily.Seek professional help: Consult a cybersecurity professional who can help identify the threat and take appropriate steps to remove it.