Study Notes for The CompTIA Security+ SY0-501 Exam: What Exactly is a Backdoor?

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Computer Security BackendIf you’re taking the CompTIA Security+ SY0-501 certification examination, some experts at CertBlaster says to take note that 21% of it is about threats, vulnerabilities, and attacks. One of which is the backdoor. Essentially, a backdoor is a means to bypass some security controls in a target computer system to gain control of an application or the entire system.

Once a hacker has installed a backdoor on a target system or web server, the hacker could then perform various tasks that would compromise its security, these include:

Launching a DDoS or Distributed Denial of Service attack

A DoS attack happens when a hacker attempts to make a network resource or machine unavailable. For instance, by flooding the network resource with traffic that it can’t possibly accommodate. The Dos would then be distributed when plenty of other machines take part in the attack. When this occurs, the hacker would have access to multiple backdoors all over the world and could use all these for performing more DDoS attacks.

Stealing sensitive data

A hacker could likewise use a backdoor on an infected system or server to steal sensitive information such as personal identifiable information, customer data, credit card details and others.

Distributing malware

Hackers also install backdoors in web servers or computer systems for distributing and infecting them with many different types of malware such as adware, ransomware, Trojans, worms, and viruses among others.

Other malicious actions that backdoors could perform discretely include obtaining system information, receiving and sending files, taking screenshots, modifying system settings, and random actions such as opening the disc drive among others.

The problem with backdoors is that they could be immensely hard to detect. With that said, detection methods could vary significantly depending on the operating system of the infected machine.

In some instances, antimalware software might be enough to detect the presence of a backdoor. Otherwise, security professionals might have to employ special processes for detecting backdoors and utilize protocol monitoring tools for inspecting network packets.

You should likewise avoid installing software from untrusted sources and fortify the security defenses of the system with an application firewall to help in preventing backdoor attacks as these could effectively restrict traffic from open ports. Additionally, it’s vital to monitor network traffic for dubious signatures.

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