Massive new waves of malware techdoctorhere, Organizations worldwide are currently facing a staggering surge in ransomware attacks. In just the last three months, the daily rate of these attacks has risen by a staggering 50%.
As these attacks continue to escalate in frequency and severity, their impact on businesses has grown exponentially. Last month alone, there were reports of ransomware attacks targeting significant players such as a shipping giant, a US-based broker, and one of the world’s largest watchmakers.
The Alarming Rise of Malware Attacks
Malware poses one of the most significant security threats to organizations. According to Deep Instinct, malware attacks saw a staggering 358% increase in 2020 compared to 2019, while ransomware attacks surged by 435% year-over-year. The trend is set to continue, as the first half of 2021 witnessed a 93% increase in ransomware attacks compared to the same period in 2020, as reported by Check Point’s mid-year security report.
To safeguard their networks, security departments must actively monitor for malware and contain it before it causes significant damage. However, the best strategy against malware is prevention. Understanding malware and its different types is essential for effective prevention.
What is Malware?
Malware, short for malicious software, is intentionally created by threat actors to infect and damage devices and networks. It encompasses various subcategories, including:
- Viruses: Computer viruses infect devices and replicate themselves across systems. Users often unwittingly download them via malicious ads or phishing emails, after which the virus spreads throughout their systems, modifying functions, copying, deleting, or stealing data, encrypting files for ransom, and even conducting DDoS attacks.
- Worms: Unlike viruses, computer worms self-replicate and infect other computers without human intervention. They exploit vulnerabilities, malicious links, or files to gain entry and spread across networked devices. Notorious worm attacks like WannaCry have affected millions of devices globally.
- Ransomware: Ransomware encrypts files or devices and extorts victims to pay a ransom for access. It comes in various forms, including locker ransomware, crypto-ransomware, double extortion ransomware, and ransomware as a service. REvil, WannaCry, and DarkSide are among the well-known ransomware variants.
- Bots: Bots are self-replicating malware that forms botnets, networks of infected devices controlled by attackers. Botnets are commonly used in DDoS attacks, keyboard recording, and phishing campaigns.
- Trojan Horses: Trojans appear legitimate to users but contain malicious code that allows attackers backdoor access to devices, data theft, and more. Remote-access Trojans (RATs) enable attackers to control infected machines and create botnets.
- Keyloggers: Keyloggers surveil and record keystrokes to capture sensitive data such as usernames and passwords. They can be hardware or software-based and pose a significant threat to data security.
- Rootkit: Rootkits grant threat actors remote access and control over a device, enabling the spread of other malware like ransomware and viruses. They can remain undetected by disabling anti-malware and anti-virus software.
- Spyware: Spyware is secretly installed on a device to steal users’ data for advertisers or external users. Pegasus, a notorious mobile spyware, targets iOS and Android devices.
- Cryptographic Malware: Cryptojacking, a type of cryptographic malware, uses the resources of infected devices to perform cryptocurrency mining. XMRig and JSEcoin are examples of widespread crypto jacking malware.
- Adware: Adware displays unwanted ads and collects user data to target specific ads. While some adware is legitimate, malicious adware can lead to infections when users click on the ads.
Preventing Malware Attacks
Maintaining robust cybersecurity is crucial in defending against malware attacks. Like personal hygiene, cyber hygiene involves implementing good practices to prevent infections. Some effective preventive measures include:
- Regular software patching and updating.
- I am using firewalls, anti-malware, and anti-virus software.
- You are following email best practices and deploying email security gates.
- We are implementing access control and multi-factor authentication.
- We are utilizing the principle of least privilege.
- We are monitoring for abnormal or suspicious activity.
- We are conducting regular security awareness training for employees.
By staying vigilant and adopting these preventive measures, organizations can fortify their defenses against the rising tide of malware attacks and protect their valuable assets from falling prey to malicious actors.