What is Malware?
Before digging into the most dangerous malware, let’s step back and define it.
Malware is short for malicious software or any malicious code created to attack a computer. And that’s what sits at the core of malware—a hacker gaining access to a computer without the owner’s knowledge.
Various forms of malware include:
- Trojan horses
Malware attacks range from data theft to the destruction of entire systems. So, most cyberattacks have malware at their core. Attack methods typically focus on these categories:
- Email attachments
- Infected ads
- Pop-up alerts
- Fake software installations
- USB devices
- Phishing emails
- Text messages
No device is immune to a malware attack. For that matter, no user is immune to being exploited by malware.
How Pervasive is Malware?
Through September 2021, SonicWall reported nearly 500 million attacks representing a 148 percent surge vs. the same nine-month period in 2020. Moreover, we’ve seen an 87% increase in malware infections over the last decade. According to Reason Labs, more than 24.5 million malware threats occurred just last month.
Here are some other compelling facts:
- Email accounts for more than 92% of all malware
- Android devices and users comprise 98% of all mobile malware targets
- Nearly 30% of all email phishing targets open a hacker’s message
- 61% of organizations experienced a ransomware attack leading to a partial disruption of business
- Trojans comprise more than 50% of all malware
- 7 out of 10 malware payloads were ransomware
By the way, if you think you’re safe from a malware attack because you’re a small business, think again. For example, 61 percent of SMBs reported at least one cyberattack last year.
10 Most Dangerous Malware Threats in 2022
So, let’s take a look at ten of the most dangerous malware threats your business faces this year.
1. PseudoManuscrypt Malware: This new spyware targets government and industrial control systems across various industries. Similar to Manuscrypt malware, it infected 35,000 computers in 195 countries.
The botnet uses fake, pirated software installer archives to download the spyware on targeted systems, with two variants identified. The one version came via the Glupteba botnet, which compromised Windows and IoT devices.
The spyware steals VPN connection data, logs keystrokes, grabs screenshots, takes videos, records sound, and steals OS event log data.
2. Clop Ransomware: One of the newest, most deadly ransomware threats, Clop ransomware disables multiple Windows applications, including Microsoft Security Essentials and Windows Defender.
Plus, it blocks more than 600Windows processes. As a result, you have zero chance of protecting your data. It’s moved to targeting entire networks versus individuals.
3. Zeus Gameover: Part of the Zeus malware family, Zeus Gameover targets financial information. For example, a Trojan targets sensitive bank details and uses them to steal your funds.
More importantly, it doesn’t require a “Command and Control” server. Instead, it bypasses centralized servers to create independent servers. You can learn more about this malware here.
Moreover, IoT devices typically contain easy-to-access data like usernames and passwords. As a result, they’re an easy target for hackers. Worst of all, these devices present a weakness in company networks, meaning hackers can access other network devices.
For instance, more than 75% of healthcare entities got impacted by TCP/IP vulnerabilities and associated threats targeting IoT devices lately.
7. Social Engineering: Ninety-eight percent of cyberattacks rely on social engineering. Why? Because people are the weakest link relating to security. As mentioned, nearly 30% of people open phishing emails.
Not surprisingly, most social engineering attacks rely on phishing or spear phishing. First, the hacker fabricates a message familiar to the target that lets their guard down. Then, when they click on a link, it launches the attack.
Cyber awareness training for employees is your best defense. Yet, less than half of organizations provide mandatory, formal training.
8. AI Attacks: Companies use artificial intelligence to protect against cybercrime through tools like threat intelligence, endpoint detection and response, and continuous vulnerability scanning.
Well, cybercriminals can use AI to launch devasting attacks. A malicious virus, for example, can determine how to target a device. In addition, AI-enabled attacks can bypass authentication methods and remain undetected.
9. Cryptojacking: Hackers have moved to install cryptojacking malware on computers and mobile devices to mine cryptocurrencies. Installing malware helps power the mining process, as it requires massive computing power to generate new crypto coins.
Cryptojacking malware performs data exfiltration, credit card skimming, keylogging, and more.
10. Hidden Ransomware: Increasingly, cybercriminals send readers instructions to install urgent Windows OS updates. However, those updates include .exe files with ransomware known as Cyborg.
The ransomware encrypts all your files and programs. Then, it demands a ransom payment to un-encrypt the files.
How to Prevent Dangerous Malware Attacks
Preventing malware requires having your house in order with appropriate policies, processes, and security tools. In addition, it requires cyber awareness training to help workers spot and respond to malware.
Here are some steps you can take to reduce your threat:
Install Antivirus or Anti-Malware Software
These tools identify and protect your network and endpoint devices from many malware threats. In addition, they offer various levels of protection at browser, device, network, and server levels. In conjunction, make sure you include a firewall.
Encrypt Your Data
Use an SSL/TLS certificate to authenticate servers and establish secure, encrypted connections. Plus, use an email security tool like a S/MIME certificate. For starters, it encrypts your email using the recipient’s key. Then, it decrypts on receipt using the corresponding private key.
Train Your Employees
Fifty-two percent of organizations cite employees as their most considerable security risk. So that’s why it is so essential to provide appropriate cyber awareness training. Employees need to know what emails to open and not. Moreover, they need to identify suspicious pop-ups or malicious links.
The Aberdeen Group reports that employee training reduces your cyber risk by up to 70 percent.
Schedule Regular System Updates
As vulnerabilities get identified, patches get released. So it’s up to you to make sure you install those patches. Otherwise, your systems remain vulnerable. Cybercriminals regularly use unpatched vulnerabilities to attack organizations.
In addition to patching software, make sure you remove software you don’t regularly use, especially legacy programs. You should also watch for shadow IT (technologies outside your control).
Use Strong Authentication
Multi-factor authentication is a must. It requires hackers have access two or more credentials to access an account. In addition, pay close attention to your password policies and procedures.
For example, make sure staff members use complex passwords for better security. Plus, a password manager may be in order. But, equally important, you might consider authentication methods that don’t require a password, such as a PIN, token, or ID card.
Implement an IAM or Zero Trust Framework
Identity access and management verifies a user’s identity before granting access. In addition, it gives admin access on an as-needed basis. Simply, the more people that have access to sensitive data, the greater your risk of a cyber breach.
A zero-trust network takes things even further. It trusts no one either inside or outside the organization. So anyone attempting to access information from the network requires verification. Equally important, zero-trust assumes no network edge – networks can operate in the cloud, locally, as a combination, or hybrid with resources and users located anywhere.
Another critical component involves edge segmentation. It adds a physical layer of defense to avoid system corruption by an infected endpoint. Dividing your network into isolated nodes optimizes threat containment and avoids lateral movement of malware.
Establish a Download Policy
Make sure software downloads come from reliable sources. For example, use code signing certificates for more substantial validation. Or compile a list of acceptable software and distribute it to your employees.
The same holds for applications. Again, only buy them from trustworthy sources.
Conduct Regular Data Backups
Even if you implement all of the above measures, there’s no guarantee you won’t suffer a cyberattack. So, you must conduct regular backups, preferably offsite and at a third-party location.
In addition, you should have a business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) plan ready to roll. It mitigates your risk by helping you restore your data quickly rather than incur costly downtime.
Talk to a Good Cybersecurity Company
If you’re a small business, it’s easy to overlook some of the little things that ensure your cybersecurity. That’s why you might want to reach out to a cybersecurity company near you for a bit of help.
As a local IT company, IntermixIT helps small businesses of all types, providing IT solutions ranging from malware protection to system updates to cyber awareness training. As a result, our comprehensive IT services ensure you’re never left hanging, whether it’s a security matter or routine maintenance.
Get in touch. And talk to us about a free IT Risk Assessment. It identifies what data is accessible to hackers to shut the door on a cyberattack.