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The Worst Malware of 2019

The Worst Malware of 2019

Forgive us if it seems a little untimely to dwell on the menace of Malware. After all, ‘tis the season of goodwill, and anything less than unconditional merriment just seems a little… misplaced. 

Yet we’ve made it through another year despite these insidious infections, and as our friends at Webroot have bravely compiled 2019’s nastiest Malware, it’s prudent to look back at the threats we’ve endured and remind ourselves to stay cautious as we sleighride into 2020.

Here, for your disapproval, is a selection of 2019’s most monstrous Malware.


While we’ll concede that Emotet is a really cool name - sounding akin to a stoic Egyptian God -  this Trojan was 2018’s most prominent, and it returns in 2019 for a similarly dubious honour. After enduring a brief shutdown in June 2019, Emotet rose from the dead in September, presumably more furious than ever from its three-month stint in solitary.  

Emotet, you see, is smart. It can detect the virus-sniffing potential of a virtual machine and, continuing the Ancient Egyptian theme, can bury itself in any sandbox environment to remain undetected. It can be traced as far back as 2014, where it was identified as a banking trojan designed to intercept internet traffic and sniff out sensitive banking details. Over time, it developed smarter ways of avoiding detection and began to target a wider selection of banks from a range of countries.

Spread mainly through spam emails, Emotet’s seeming immortality is what makes it such a nasty threat, and a top-spot holder for two years running.

Hidden Bee

Hidden Bee isn’t anywhere near as adorable as its namesake – but it does have complexity in common with our favourite pollinators.

Initially introduced via malware-laden ad spaces and online smut-peddlers, Hidden Bee is a silent process that runs in the background of an infected computer – you’d have to be keenly monitoring your processor usage before noticing it’s even there. From here, it installs, removes, and injects itself into applications as necessary, creating a multi-tiered approach to infection as it frequently hides and disguises itself. If you’re technically minded, some poor soul over at Malwarebytes has done a frankly staggering rundown of it all right here.

Hidden Bee is a combination of Bootkits and Cryptocurrency mining software, which not only makes it almost impervious to system reboots, but a massive drain on resources as it uses the victim’s computer to mine for cryptocurrency. It may be a prolific forager then, but it shares none of the charm of our pollen-pinching pals.


We covered it once, then we covered it again, so we’re not surprised to see Ryuk take the top spot. Ryuk typically infects PCs via email and employs 2 more of Webroot’s most-maligned malwares - Emotet and Trickbot – to steal financial details, delete all data backups, disable your anti-virus and cripple your security software. Then, like the third head of some sinister cyber-Cerberus, Ryuk freezes all activity on a business’s network - demanding a bitcoin ransom to get it all unlocked.

It’s safe to say that if Ryuk were a person, it’d turn up to parties it wasn’t invited to, drink all the wine, and collapse in front of the bathroom door so nobody could get inside. It’s a thief, an infiltrator, and an expensive nuisance, and it deserves all the disdain it gets as it makes for the year’s worst Ransomware.  

We’d be remiss not to thank the folks at Webroot for compiling these top three threats, nor to direct our readers to their expanded list here – which goes into some greater details on a range of other nasties in the categories of Ransomware, Cryptomining and Botnets.


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