What is Malware and why you must Protect your Business from it
If you have arrived at this blog, we hope it’s only for research and not because you have been infected with Malware. The term malware is a general name given for a group of malicious software whose intent is to disrupt, steal or harm your infrastructure or service. Cybercriminals or hackers use Malware to obtain data and subsequently use it to blackmail companies for financial gain.
What are the Types of Malware?
Malware presents itself across several methods and these include the following.
The Ten Types of Malware
1. Viruses: The most common form of Malware, a virus, is a self-contained piece of software with a set of instructions that it will execute alongside or within another legitimate process. The aim would be to run malicious activity to steal then, disrupt or hijack your device or service.
2. Ransomware: Probably the most destructive of Malware; it is the go-to method for hackers to spread chaos and obtain monies. The Malware usually downloads and installs on the victim’s device and then begins to search and encrypt all files. Once this has been completed, the victim will be shown a ransom demand for payment (usually in cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin). Failure to do so will mean all files will remain encrypted.
3. Rootkits: These are a collection of programs that work together to provide remote access to hackers. The term is used as its always a kit of applications that embed itself in the operating system and work across each other; thus making them harder to detect.
4. Scareware: Usually, popup windows appear from a browser that will attempt to scare you into thinking your device is unsafe or has been hacked. The hackers will then create a sense of urgency and fear to encourage you to call a number or click on something that could also introduce other threats.
5. Worms: Less common now; but can still be part of a wider attacked from advanced cyber-hackers. Worms are placed on a device which then look to exploit weakness and then spread across the network. They are self-aware and self-contained and can spread very slowly, which makes them harder to detect.
6. Spyware: Prevalent across older operating systems and is continuously being updated; spyware aims to lay dormant and log activity on your device for keystrokes, data access and browsing habits. It will then intermittently send this information to the hacker.
7. Trojans: Very active as a cyber-threat and are downloaded alongside, what appears to be, harmless software or website. The trojans aim is to steal data, disrupt the device from working properly or spy on activities to then report back.
8. Adware / Malvertising: Another popular method for hackers to exploit. Adware is generally installed alongside applications as an add-on and can present sales opportunities to the user. The challenge has been that hackers can now place adverts to victims that create fear and panic.
9. File Less Malware: The most common type would be macros in documents. File less Malware embeds itself in a word document and then executes within it to disrupt the device. It generally lays dormant and collects information OR adds registry changes to the device, allowing other attacks to continue.
10. Crypto-jacking: A more recent addition to the hacker’ arsenal, crypto-jacking involves some code running on the victim’s device that then consumes the devices CPU and memory to essentially mine cryptocurrency.
As you can see – Malware can present itself in many forms and with the sole intention of disrupting your business. Being aware of these attack vectors and types is key to then building a robust cybersecurity strategy.
How to Protect Your Business from Malware?
You protect yourself from Malware by putting in place a robust cybersecurity plan that ensures your IT team can detect, defend, protect and recover initiatives. Protection against any cyber-attacks starts with a cybersecurity strategy and user training and awareness. From there, you can reduce the risks and monitor the attack surfaces.
Device Protection: Ensure that you have stringent anti-virus security and a regular patch management cycle. User password policies should be in place to ensure all passwords follow a robust approach. User accounts should follow a “least privilege” model where the user has the absolute minimum permission to perform their job. Ensure the device has endpoint management so that any alerts and configuration can be centrally managed.
Ensure users are careful: User training and awareness are something all companies must adopt to reduce their risk of malware attacks. It needs to be cohesive and part of the work culture to be conscious of security. Your users can be your biggest security firewall if they are trained and have an awareness of what to do and what not to do.
Online Browsing: The majority of malware attacks arrive from the internet. Whether it is an email, a website, or a file, they all need to connect and communicate to something on the internet. Ensuring you have the right security level is vital in ensuring threats are detected as soon as possible.
Network Security: Your network is vital to protect as its the highway for communication in and out of your company. Having the right firewalls, network segregation, monitoring and alerting is key to ensure you are protected.
What to do if Ransomware has hit you?
The first signs of a malware attack can sometimes be slow and steady whilst the payload executes its work. Let us now look at the key effects of a successful malware attack.
> Device slowness and generally decrease in performance.
> Browser redirects and random popups opening and closing.
> Random restarts of the device
> Ransomware warnings and windows informing you of infection.
> Files changing in terms of names and icons.
The above are the core signs that you have or are being attacked by malware. The more you observe, the more its likely to be a host of attacks.
Common Malware attacks that have occurred
The security boulevard recently released a list of the most common malware attacks during 2020. It shows the devastating impact and cost of these cyber-attacks and demonstrates just how large the problem is.
We hope this blog has provided some insight into malware and what you need to do to keep your business protected.
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