Malware – What About It?

Lauren Engelbrecht
Editor United States Cybersecurity Magazine


Malware, or malicious software, is purposely designed to cause damage and infect your computer, and give access of your computers contents to cyber criminals. Whereas the development of malware previously was limited to amateurs and the curious’ of the cyber world, it is now developed by the nefarious and sophisticated cyber criminals of the world.

And everyone has reason to beware. (And be aware!)

Imagine you are an employee of, oh let’s say, Bob’s Pharmaceuticals, but you’re not just an employee, you are the lead research scientist. Your job is specified. You continued to create and re-create a multi-vitamin until the outcome that the C-Suite’s of Bob’s Pharmaceuticals wanted was reached.   Day in and day out you worked diligently. Dedicated, you continued to tweak the different elements until it was perfected, right? Right!

Now, apply this to the cyber criminals creating malware.  These sophisticates are dedicated. They are diligent. They work day in and day out until their malware is perfect and ready for attack. You, the research scientist of Bob’s Pharmaceuticals, created a multi-vitamin to help others maintain good health, a building block of the human body.

In the meantime,  cyber criminals are creating malware to maintain their ransoms, extortions and criminality of the human race. Bob’s Pharmaceuticals go on to sell the perfected multi-vitamin to generate revenue as well as contribute to the well-being of others. Cyber criminals also go as far as to sell their developed malware, updates included, to generate (stolen) revenue, and contribute to the breaches that are spreading like wildfire across the world. Not only do they sell it but they use it, and they could be developing the next malware that attacks your system.

Skip that anti-virus update? Remind me later? I think not.

“Ahhh! I can’t update and restart my computer now! I’ll be sure to do it later.” No way. If you have uttered these words, you are potentially risking your information and opening the door to vulnerabilities. As malware and cyber criminals become increasingly sophisticated, anti-virus merchants release updates to help patch vulnerabilities and detect malware and viruses.

Let’s say you (remember you’re employed with Bob’s Pharmaceuticals) were engulfed in work on your near-finished multi-vitamin product, and you were prompted with an update notification from your trusted anti-virus. But you’re in the zone. You’ve got different formulas in front of you and are preparing for the next batch of the potentially completed multi-vitamin, so you opt out and say “I’ll do it soon.” Same goes with your back-up to the cloud. But alas, as human nature goes, you forget.

As chance goes, Hacker Group X has generated a new (and sophisticated) email malware. At a first glance, it looks legitimate. You’re hastily checking your emails after a hard day’s work of researching and developing for your company, and you see an email from Bob’s Bank. You are tired, exhausted, and ready to go home. You read the email, you click the link, and BOOM, you just installed malware from and for, Hacker Group X.

Now Hacker Group X exploits the vulnerabilities in your software and computer, and they’re in. They decide to extort you, locking you out of your research and your account. Your log-in information is held for a hefty ransom. Uh oh! The big wig C-Suite’s of your company don’t react well, because they have a specific procedure in place regarding updates. Uh oh! They need that research and they need it now.

They need the access granted back to the files that Hacker Group X has locked. So ultimately, C-Suite’s pay the ransom, gain the access back to the precious multi-vitamin research, and your employment is terminated. What a day. Now, while all of this is a fabricated, what-if scenario, the probability is accurate. There are a few lessons to learn here. Let us review.

To avoid Malware, ALWAYS:

update your trusted anti-virus. The released updates further detect and stop malware. So, when you’re up-to-date, you lessen the chances of vulnerabilities. Better yet, enable automatic updates from your trusted anti-virus.

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REGULARLY:

back up your system and your files to a trusted cloud-based service, or have your backups stored on an external drive. (Or both!)

REMAIN:

vigilant in today’s cyber warfare. Thoroughly read through emails and approach them with caution. Also ensure that emails you receive are from a reliable source and are legitimate. Don’t just click away, Otherwise, you could be clicking your way (or your employers way) into a serious and costly cyber-attack.

Cyber criminals continue to advance their malware developments. As they remain steadfast in trying to attack us, we must remain vigilant in doing what we can to deny them access to what is ours. Protect yourself, protect your information. Stay aware, and stay UP-TO-DATE!


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