Small to mid-sized organizations are now one of cyber-criminals biggest targets. Now, over half of all attacks are directed at smaller businesses. Cyber-attacks come in all shapes and sizes, with one goal, to steal your data or financial information. This information is often resold on the dark web. Learn more about the biggest threats of small and medium-sized businesses by clicking here.
Malware is the most frequently used cyberattack method used by cybercriminals. According to Statista Research, during the first half of 2022, the number of malware attacks reached 2.8 billion.
Malware is an umbrella term that describes and includes any malicious code or program harmful to an organization’s system. Its goal is to damage, invade and disable networks, computers, tablets, and mobile devices, by taking partial control over the operating system.
This article will go deep into what malware is, the 8 most common attacks, and the best way to prevent them.
Following the article, we have added links and educational information regarding cyber security and how to protect your organization. So, how does one protect one’s devices and enterprise from the ever-lingering threat of malware attacks? Let’s find out more below.
What is Malware?
Malware may be one of your company’s most significant threats as it enters your systems most simply and innocently.
What is commonly referred to as malware is malicious software that is:
- attached to emails
- embedded in spam, fraudulent links
- Or found on various sites that your employees or executives visit online.
Once it’s made its way into your system, the malware exploits computers and networks to steal money or data. All it takes is one click on the wrong website or link for the malware to install itself on a device and start its program.
Remote work and malware
In recent times, malware attacks have increased drastically, especially in the wake of the pandemic, as more and more employees started working from home.
The risk of malware attraction increases in a work-from-home scenario. In the absence of the protection of the corporate network and the myriad distractions at home, employees are more likely to click on a malware site or link.
Simultaneously, hackers are almost becoming an industry as they grow more sophisticated and organized daily. As a result, experts estimate that cybercrime will end up costing businesses $10.5 trillion annually by 2025.
Malware is typically designed to steal:
- Financial information
- Trade secrets
- Company information, etc.
Various types of malware spread and steal information differently. The best way to combat these attacks is to learn about them first.
What are the 8 Most Common Types of Malware Attacks?
Here’s a list of the most common types of malware attacks.
Adware is malware that displays unwanted or malicious advertising. This type of malware is relatively harmless but can be highly irritating as spammy ads keep popping up repeatedly. Additionally, these ads can cause many users to download more harmful malware on their devices.
You can defend your system against adware by updating your web browser, operating system, and email lists. Taking these measures will enable your system to block adware attacks before they can download and install malware on your system.
Fileless malware doesn’t directly affect files or the file system, unlike classical malware, which infects machines through executable files.
Early examples of malware attacks include Frodo, Number of the Beast, the Dark Avenger, etc. Recently, this malware was used to attack the Democratic National Committee and cause the Equifax breach.
The best term to describe how this malware operates is insidious, as it is almost undetectable and can keep stealing sensitive information from your computer for months before being detected.
Restricting data access
One way to defend against this malware is to restrict your company’s data access.
Restricting data access entails providing limited access to different employees. Ideally, they should only have direct access to the files they are working on. You can also disable programs like PowerShell for those employees who do not need it.
A virus is a type of malware that infect other programs and can spread from one system to another. Once the virus file is launched, it encrypts, deletes, and corrupts your system data and files.
You should install an enterprise-level antivirus to defend all connected systems against this malware.
Installing a trusted and advanced antivirus allows you to secure and protect all your devices from a single location while ensuring control and visibility. Scan your computers regularly and update your antivirus software when required.
Much like the famous Trojan Horse that fooled the inhabitants of Troy during the epic Greek war, a trojan malware pretends to be an actual program and tricks users into installing it on their systems.
A trojan malware has to be run by its victim to spread from one device to another. Typically, a trojan enters your network via email or is distributed to users via a website link. Trojans can be more challenging to eliminate since they rely on social engineering to spread and download.
The most straightforward approach to protect yourself from trojans is never downloading or installing software from an untrusted source. Instead, ensure that your staff downloads apps only from trusted app shops and pre-approved developers.
Worms count among the types of malware that spread to several devices or systems, just like a virus. Yet, a worm differs from a virus in one crucial aspect.
A worm, however, does not spread to other programs. This type of malware frequently targets well-known exploits. So, you should ensure that every device in your network has the most recent fixes installed to defend yourself against worms.
Using firewalls and email filters, you can also find suspicious files or links that might contain a worm.
A bot is a specially-created software program designed to perform the same action on repeat without any external interference. A system with a bot infection can infect an entire network, creating what is called a botnet.
Using the botnet, hackers can use your entire network of systems to launch massive attacks. Meanwhile, the users of these systems are unaware of how their device is being used.
Bots can launch large attacks that are capable of bringing down entire companies or countries. That’s what makes these types of malware attacks particularly dangerous.
A case in point is the spam botnet Cutwail which sent 51 million emails every minute, contributing up to 46.5% of the entire world’s spam volume in 2009. As Cutwail comprises around 1.5 million infected machines, all attempts to shut it down have failed. Despite an attempted takedown by the FBI, Europol, and several other law enforcement agencies in 2014, the botnet stays active and is available for rent even today.
Circling back to ransomware attacks, which we discussed at the beginning of the article, this type of malware encrypts a device’s data and holds it for ransom. This way, the hackers can hold entire corporations and even governments hostage by threatening to delete or expose the data. Hackers may often destroy or leak the data, even if the victim pays up.
Due to their impact on governmental agencies, telecommunications companies, railroad networks, and hospitals, ransomware assaults make the news regularly. The WannaCry attack in May 2017 shut down systems across 150 countries, infecting over 200,000 devices. As hackers start working together to pull off bigger heists, ransomware attacks will keep increasing.
The best way to combat these malware attacks is to create routine backups at a secure off-site facility. You should also train your staff on the best practices for cyber hygiene to prevent people from clicking on harmful links. Taking these precautions will enable you to restore your systems without paying the ransom.
Coming to the last item on our list of the different types of malware, we have spyware. Cybercriminals use spyware to monitor the activities of users on compromised systems.
The spyware can access user names, passwords, and personal information by recording the keystrokes a user makes over a day.
Like in the case of other types of malware, antivirus software can assist you in finding and getting rid of spyware. By employing anti-tracking browser extensions, you can stop spyware from following your users from site to site.
What’s The Best Way to Protect Your Organization
Malware launches several attacks on your system, looking for device or user weaknesses. The best way to fend off these multi-faceted attacks from different types of malware is to adopt a multi-pronged approach.
Educating your employees about cybersecurity and what they must do to avoid accidentally downloading malware on their systems is imperative. At the same time, you need high-level managed IT services and cyber security solutions provided by experts battling all types of malware attacks daily.
Malware is one of the largest causes of cyber breaches in the world. The more you and your organization know how it works and what to look out for, the better you will be protected.
We listed the top 8, which are important, but keep in mind that cyber hackers are developing new types of malware every day, so your only way to be secure is to have a fully layered cyber security system.
If you are interested in getting more insights or learning more about cyber security and how to protect your organization, check out this link: Learn more about cyber security
However, If you would like to learn more about our enterprise-level fully-layered cyber security solution we created specifically for small to mid-sized organizations, check out this link: The Security Shield
Let’s chat if you have more urgent cyber security needs or have questions regarding IT support, cyber security, or our digital transformation services. Start A Conversation