Malware becoming more sophisticated, majority of organizations infected

Hackers might be looking at your Facebook profile to design better attacks.

One of the problems with relying entirely on one security solution is that the cyber threat landscape changes rapidly. Antivirus software identifies threats by matching a particular piece of software’s code to programs it has identified as “malicious” in its database. But what happens when an unidentified virus infects a victim’s computer? Antivirus programs can only protect against threats they already know. In today’s world of evolving malware, there are likely a lot of threats antivirus doesn’t know about.The solution, according to a recent Data Center Journal article, is application control. Instead of compiling a list of threats, this technique looks at what is already on a computer and identifies programs as safe, blocking software that doesn’t match. This allows application control solutions to block unknown threats. Software developers can use coded certificates to digitally sign their software, which means any code with that signature becomes a trusted source. Utilizing multiple security solutions may become even more important as the level of sophistication in malware grows.

“Targeted attacks can be engineered to seek out a very specific machine, infrastructure or geography,” the article stated. “They can target a single company, maybe with the intention of stealing trade secrets or discrediting that company. If you want a good example, just look at the infection map for Flame: it is tightly grouped around the Gulf States. The other development is the apparent involvement of the nation state.”

How protected are you?
Another problem is that organizations are likely already affected by malware. According to a recent V3.co.uk article, 95 percent of companies have already fallen victim to attacks from advanced malware and suffer from an average of 643 successful infections per week. However, perhaps even more troubling, is the statistic that there has been a 400 percent increase in the number of infections since last year.

The article highlighted the increasing popularity of targeted attacks. Imagine you got an email that looked like it was from a friend. Maybe the text in the email jokes about the trip you took last week and how you came back sunburnt. Would you click on the links in the email, even if it came from an address you didn’t recognize? If you have old vacation pictures on Facebook, a determined hacker could use them to write such an email, and cyber criminals are starting to use that kind of information to craft targets specifically for their victims.

“The attacks reportedly use social engineering to create Trojan email campaigns custom-designed for their victims,” the article stated. “The campaigns contain malicious web links and attachments that infect users’ machines with malware when opened.”

Have you ever been targeted by a social engineering attack? Was it through email or a social networking website?

Matt Williams

A self-proclaimed ‘tech geek’, Matt has worked in technology for a decade and divides his time between blogging and working in IT. A huge New York Giants fan, when not watching football Matt gets his game on playing Call of Duty with his friends and other tech bloggers.