Remote code execution (RCE) seriously threatens your system and personal information. By executing arbitrary code on a remote device, a threat actor can steal sensitive data, disrupt system processes and use malware such as ransomware, spyware, infostealers and more.
By exploiting a security vulnerability on your device, attackers can access a machine remotely over public or private networks without the need to physically access it. It poses little risk for a hacker to perform an RCE, as it’s tricky for general users to track any malicious activity back to the attacker.
What exactly is it, and how can you defend yourself against it? This guide will explain what Remote Code Execution is and how to protect yourself using the best antivirus software.
What is Remote Code Execution (RCE)?
Remote code execution (RCE) is a type of cyberattack in which an attacker can execute code on a remote computer without physically accessing the computer. There are various types of attacks associated with RCE. Still, the most common trait is that they all exploit vulnerabilities on your device to run arbitrary code through remote servers or computers.
While RCE is part of vulnerabilities known as arbitrary code execution (ACE), which is a security flaw that allows threat actors to run commands on a target device, remote code execution is one of the more dangerous threats, as the attacker doesn’t any previous access to the target device.
Once a threat actor uses RCE on a system, it can lead to malware installation, stolen data, remote computer control, and operation disruption. The potential risk of damage is extremely high because of the various ways an attacker can use an RCE attack. This makes it a severe threat you’ll need to remove immediately.
What can Remote Code Execution be used for?
RCE is mainly used to wreak havoc on your system. Whether it be to steal data or use your computer’s resources, attackers take advantage of taking control of your device.
The purpose of RCE attacks include:
– Cryptomining: Running cryptomining malware will use your system’s resources to mine cryptocurrency, which can take a heavy toll on your computer. This makes the attacker a profit from using your device. Since it takes up a significant amount of processing power, your device will act slower, may crash often and will have little battery. It’s a good idea to check if you have high disk usage.
– Ransomware: Attackers can deploy ransomware to deny users access to important files. It takes your data hostage by locking it up, with attackers often asking for payment for it to unlock again.
– Denial of Service (DoS): Through an RCE attack, attackers can use code to restrict access to your system. It stops anyone from using the device by making it crash or overburdening its resources.
– Steal data: By using infostealer malware or executing commands, attackers can exfiltrate information from your device. This can be login information and passwords, banking details, important documents or files, unencrypted data and more.
Examples of Remote Code Execution attacks
Because remote code execution can be categorised as various attacks, it can affect your computer in different ways. This includes:
– Injection attacks involve injecting malicious code into a vulnerable application. This can be done by exploiting vulnerabilities in SQL queries, web forms, or input fields.
– Cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks involve injecting malicious code into a web page. When a victim visits the web page, the malicious code is executed in their browser.
– Privilege escalation attacks allow attackers to gain higher access to a computer system. This can be done by exploiting vulnerabilities in operating systems, applications, or system configuration files.
This is why it’s essential to stay safe against all forms of cyber threats, especially those that exploit system vulnerabilities. Using a trustworthy antivirus can mitigate these attacks.
How to protect yourself from Remote Code Execution attacks
Fortunately, there are several ways to keep your system and information safe from RCE attacks. You can check out our guide on protecting yourself against remote code execution attacks on Windows.
However, the best way to defend against malicious attacks is by using the best antivirus software. If your system has a vulnerability, the proper antivirus will be able to identify malicious code trying to exploit a device’s weakness and get rid of it.
While not all antivirus software is equal, many high-standard AV protections offer near-perfect scores when detecting and protecting against malware, meaning even complex malicious software can’t go unnoticed.
Services, including Norton 360 (from $19.99/year) and Bitdefender (from $19.99/year), include device monitoring features to help uncover suspicious activity early and offer the tools to fight off cyberattacks. Whether it’s a phishing attack, ransomware, spyware or infostealer malware, these security products have the tools to protect you.
These services have protection features that block malicious activity on your device. To ensure your device is ready to identify and block malware damaging your system, set yourself up with an antivirus.
Best antivirus to prevent viruses and malware
1. Norton 360 🥇From $19.99/year
Best overall antivirus of 2023
“Norton” and “antivirus” are synonymous these days, as the well-established cybersecurity brand has successfully fought against malware, viruses and nasty software threats since 1990.
Norton 360 offers excellent antivirus protection and extra features that make for a valuable, all-in-one security product. Its Norton 360 Deluxe and Premium package may cost a pretty penny. Still, with security across multiple platforms, a full-blown VPN, Dark Web Monitoring, Parental Controls and more, it will have a household free of cyber threats.
Norton’s certainty of its antivirus software’s capabilities is clearly defined by the brand’s 100% Virus Protection Promise. If a device protected by Norton 360 can’t get rid of a virus, the user receives their money back. It’s a big claim, but unquestionably, no one should expect to get that refund.
If you have the money for it, you can also check out the premium Norton 360 Platinum package for even more online protection, including from identity theft. Without a doubt one of the best antivirus to get.
Read our full Norton 360 review
2. Bitdefender 🥈 From $19.99/year
Best security features and tools
Bitdefender takes the spot as best antivirus, and for good reason. It’s not enough that it boasts near-perfect lab test scores across the board, as it goes the extra mile by giving users access to a plethora of advanced security features.
Bitdefender goes above and beyond in the features department, all while keeping known malware, ransomware, and viruses at bay. It will defend your device against new attacks, provide security for online transactions, keep you safe with a reliable VPN, and protect your accounts with a password manager.
It’s a no-brainer when it comes to defending your devices against virtually any form of cyberattack, and its top-notch protection extends to its most affordable package, too. Protecting your PC and smartphone, from Windows and macOS to iOS and Android, is becoming even more necessary, and Bitdefender is the tricked-out shield you need.
Read our full Bitdefender review
3. Malwarebytes 🥉 From $44.99/year
Best antivirus for Windows PC
Hundreds of malware emerge every minute, and it’s Malwarebytes’ mission to detect and conquer them all. Does the antivirus do this successfully? Yes, but there’s wiggle room for improvements.
Malwarebytes’ no-nonsense approach to protecting your devices from the onslaught of malware and viruses is effective for those who need a reliable antivirus that will detect and remove malicious software, especially with its free version. However, while its premium service provides 24/7 real-time detection, conveniently blocks vicious ransomware and shields users from malicious websites, it doesn’t go beyond on the feature front.
That’s no bad thing, as sometimes a user only needs a powerful antivirus to keep them safe from cyber threats. But considering its competitors add a few more security tools, such as data breach monitoring and a firewall, there’s room for improvement.
Read our full Malwarebytes review
4. Avast One 🙌 From $39.99/year
Best antivirus for beginners + free plan available!
With Avast One, you can protect your device from viruses, malware and ransomware for free. That’s right, and you don’t have to pay a dime for the extra security features the antivirus throws in, including its VPN, firewall and more.
Avast One will safeguard your device from malware, comes with ransomware protection, blocks harmful websites and downloads from the web, scans your emails for malicious attachments, stops hackers from infiltrating your device through Wi-Fi with a firewall – the list goes on. That’s a lot of tools for software that’s free, and the included VPN and the ability to speed up your PC are a welcome bonus.
It’s the ideal antivirus software for home use, as it takes the hassle out of staying wary of cyber threats lurking around, even if you’re not a tech whizz. What’s more, if you are looking for added precautions, its paid Individual and Family packages still boast great value. Hard to go wrong with this best antivirus.
Read our full Avast One review
5. AVG👍 From 4.99/month
Best antivirus for + free plan available!
You can never go wrong with free antivirus protection, but some deliver even better detection and protection rates, along with extra security features, without costing a dime. This is where AVG antivirus shines.
AVG provides reliable protection and only a small impact on performance for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. It safeguards your devices against malware, viruses and zero-day exploits, along with blocking malicious links and attachments in emails. Throw in phishing protection when surfing the internet and extra security features such as its SafePrice browser extension and Network Inspector, and you’ve got yourself a do-it-all antivirus.
Sure, you can find all of these perks with Avast, but if you like a slick, darker user interface that’s easy to navigate, then AVG is for you.
Read our full AVG Antivirus review