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Nukers may refer to two things: either the program that “nukes” a device or a hacker who performs the “nuking.” As it is obvious from the name, “nuking” is a dangerous occurrence that can put the entire system to a halt. Luckily, it is no longer a very common malware infection, but it is still possible to take advantage of less secure systems to take them down with nukers.
If we are talking about nukers as software, then it is possible to say that a nuker is a type of Trojan that is mostly used to disrupt network service. When a computer is attacked by a nuker, it might slow down, restart, or simply crash, depending on what the attacker intends to do. The infection achieves that by sending packets of certain information through the computer’s IP address. In a sense, this infection performs denial of service (DoS) attacks.
With that, we can see that a nuker can also be a hacker who employs these Trojan-like programs to carry out malicious attacks. They use nukers to send corrupted data to the targeted computer. Hackers employ a modified ping utility to take out a computer by sending out invalid Internet Control Message Protocol packets. In other words, the targeted computer still receives the data packets it is supposed to receive, but the packets are invalid, and they damage the system.
Most of the time, nukers would use instant messaging programs for the attack vector. Infected messages would be sent through Macros or AppleScript. Luckily, most of the systems these days are protected from such attacks, but security specialists maintain that websites with weak ports could still be affected by nukers, especially if they make use of DoS to bring their systems down.
Historically, some of the more known nukers (as programs) include WinNuke, Abomb, Nukem, and others. WinNuke is considered to be the first most damaging computer nuker that affected computers running on Microsoft 95, Windows 3.1x, and Microsoft Windows NT in the 1990s. The WinNuke attacks were known for their use of the “blue screen of death.” The hackers behind it would connect the targeted computer to out-of-bank data, which eventually would lock the machine and display the notorious screen. Since then, security patches for this attack have been released, and WinNuke can no longer be used in attacks on updated systems.
Therefore, the best way to protect potential target systems from nuker attacks (however unlikely they might be in this day and age) is by performing regular system software updates and by acquiring a reliable anti-malware tool. All the other security measures that can be used against nukers correspond with the steps you ought to take to protect your computer and your data from a Trojan attack. For more information on that, do check out our entry on Trojans here.