September 19, 2016
Joe Franscella

10 Malware Facts Corrected

<p>Discovering that a terminal on your network has been infected with a malicious program is, at the very least, an inconvenience and more often than not results in loss of productivity and a costly cleanup process. For large-scale organizations, malware can lead to a catastrophic <a href="">data breach or loss of proprietary information</a> that was an investment to develop and the compromise of which means future setbacks as well. Individuals and SMEs are similarly vulnerable yet lack the resources their larger counterparts have for resolution of a cyber-security threat.</p><p>Considering that devastating espionage cases begin with a malware attack, it&#39;s important to understand not only how they work but how they <em>don’t </em>function as well. Here are ten misconceptions about malware:</p><ol><li>“Malware is a technical term for a computer virus.” Using these two terms interchangeably is OK if you&#39;re writing an action movie. If you&#39;re tasked with selecting a security platform or are working with IT security on a cross-department risk management team, the distinction is important. Viruses are a subset of malware. That is to say, all viruses are malware but not all malware operates virally.</li></ol><ol start="2"><li>“I&#39;ll know if we’re infected.” There are some telltale signs of a successful malware attack in some cases however the goal of hackers and other threat actors is stealth. Only malicious applications which scan and transmit data are creating enough strain to result in an observable change discovered during regular use. That&#39;s not to say you shouldn&#39;t take action if you notice excessive boot time, extra processes in the task manager, or unexplainable ads.</li></ol><ol start="3"><li>“Anti-malware platforms are for companies who have sensitive files.” Privacy can be taken for granted by individuals and enterprises alike. You may not appreciate the value of your network until you’ve experienced a ransomware attack.</li></ol><ol start="4"><li>“I didn&#39;t do anything wrong.” Nobody likes to be told they’re at fault, however, malware infections are <a href="" target="_blank">delivered by email 66% of the time</a>. It&#39;s arguable that the other successful attacks are the result of failure to sufficiently address vulnerabilities in the system.</li></ol><ol start="5"><li>“Hackers can do permanent damage to your computer.” While we have consistently been stressing the lasting effect a data breach or DDoS can have on your organization, malware doesn&#39;t harm the components of your computers, server, router, etc. There is a possibility of secondary damage in the case of stress to moving or heated components, such as the fans motor burning out from a memory-draining infection. Smart devices are exploitable to the point of unusability. All of these unauthorized commands are reversible. Where anti-malware platforms fail, device-specific repair specialists can help.</li></ol><ol start="6"><li>“If I reformat my computer I&#39;ll be fine.” Resetting your PC to factory conditions used to work for many malicious programs. Hackers constantly adapt, particularly to vulnerabilities centered around human ignorance or hubris. So, no, reformatting to get a clean slate isn&#39;t “a thing” any longer</li></ol><ol start="7"><li>“I can fix this myself.” If you&#39;ve been following our blog, you know most hackers are helped by an erroneous user. Some folks are ashamed to have allowed in an infection or don&#39;t think they can afford a professional cleanup. Removing all traces of an infection requires surgical precision now that black hat coders know the end-user tactics. Don’t resist contacting a specialist before the problem spurns out of control.</li></ol><ol start="8"><li>“You cannot get malware if you only open emails from trusted sources.” Adopting a discerning attitude about which messages to open is a huge leap in the right direction, however, this statement isn&#39;t unilaterally true. Not all malicious emails come from dodgy pharmaceutical companies. Hackers now produce tools which mine a victims stored data for hints as to where and how to keep spreading. Social engineering is the tactic of using known information to give victims a false sense of trust.</li></ol><ol start="9"><li>“I don&#39;t have to worry about malicious programs because we have anti-virus software.” There goes that interchangeable usage again! Security platforms block out plenty of attacks, but only ones that have been identified and addressed via a patch. Threat actors need only to be successful once to begin their planned attack.</li></ol><ol start="10"><li>“I don&#39;t visit <em>those</em> kinds of sites!” Websites with adult content are notorious for hosting malicious software, but they are not the only dangerous places you can visit on the web. Searching for coupons or song lyrics can be just as dangerous. Torrenting pirated media from “peers” is also risky regardless of the actual content.</li></ol><p>Now that you have a greater awareness of the <a href="">truly insidious nature of malware</a>, hopefully you&#39;ve reduced the likelihood of allowing a hacker to be successful.</p><p><span class="hs-cta-wrapper" id="hs-cta-wrapper-bf271459-62f1-402a-848f-8053e3969477"><span class="hs-cta-node hs-cta-bf271459-62f1-402a-848f-8053e3969477" data-hs-drop="true" id="hs-cta-bf271459-62f1-402a-848f-8053e3969477" style="visibility: visible; display: block; text-align: center;"><a class="cta_button " cta_dest_link="{page_3453}" href="" id="cta_button_458120_18fe26c8-b204-4974-b043-7029208f22e1" style="margin: 20px auto;" target="_blank" title="Download Here">Download Here </a> </span> <script charset="utf-8" src=""></script> <script type="text/javascript">hbspt.cta.load(458120, 'bf271459-62f1-402a-848f-8053e3969477', {});</script> </span></p>

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