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Malware Today – In A Nutshell

About Malware, That Nasty Software That Can Ruin Your Business

Malware is a term which means ‘malicious software’ and it is designed to allow software to access your computer and network without your knowledge. The cybercriminals that create these nasty programs each have a unique purpose, but the commonality of all is to gain access to sensitive information, proprietary data and personal data in a silent attack, and then leave. Considering that it is often months before the attack is recognized, the cost in company data and reputation is combined with the price needed to repair and defend.

malware

Malware is a term which means ‘malicious software’ and it is designed to allow software to access your computer and network without your knowledge. The cybercriminals that create these nasty programs each have a unique purpose, but the commonality of all is to gain access to sensitive information, proprietary data and personal data in a silent attack, and then leave. Considering that it is often months before the attack is recognized, the cost in company data and reputation is combined with the price needed to repair and defend.

There are a variety of malware types, including true viruses, worms, ransomware, keyloggers, zombie computers, adware, spyware and a number of other codes that infiltrate and wreak havoc on a computer and network. According to McAfee, the computer security software company, 110 million Americans (nearing 50%) have experienced an exposure of the personal information through malware attacks via a computer. With the uptick in mobile use for payments, this number is expected to increase exponentially, with the growth already showing a 112% jump.

Unlike the original, old-school malware, which was created more for a prank, today’s malware has a direct purpose that is wrapped around profit. The two most popular methods involve: Accessing and downloading a company’s valuable data, which can then be sold off to a number of interested parties. Making use of ransomware which sidetracks the need for cumbersome data downloads and instead cuts to the chase with a demand for money to unlock the files that they have encrypted. While the original malware was designed for Windows, the sophistication of the programs are now to such an extent that no operating system is safe.

According to a McAfee report: Cloud-based storage is of great interest when it comes to ransomware cybercrime. “Ransomware will target endpoints that subscribe to cloud-based storage services, attempting to exploit the stored credentials of logged-on users to also infect data backed up to the cloud”.

Malware creators depend on the fact that people seem to ‘trust’ the internet websites. They also know that employees that receive emails from what may look like reliable companies will open an attachment that appears innocent, but instead contains an executable file hidden within a pdf or word document. Once downloaded, the malware quickly infiltrates an individual computer, seeking specific file types and, if connected via a network, will expand its search for a complete takeover.

Sharon Knowles, CEO of Da Vinci Forensics says:

Malware has become one of the worst problems for SA companies, seeking out, attacking and leaving a company defenseless. DaVinci Forensics has been focused on working with companies to assist in the repair, but most importantly, on the education side to help companies avoid and deter the attacks. Proactive measures are required on a consistent basis to ensure that staff and company maintain the utmost protection to ward off this kind of cybercrime. This is especially critical as employees use their mobile devices for company functions.

As malware continues to be used as part of a cybercrime approach, individuals and companies need to be diligent on perceiving these cyber hackers as a true threat. Loss goes beyond the amount of money and extends into a company’s level of trust and credibility.

*** Sources***
PC Tools
McAfee.com