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Trojan horses, worms and spies

What’s the connection and why should you care?

They may sound like a random selection of words, but they are actually all connected by the ever growing web of deceptive malicious software that is constantly attacking networks of all sizes across the globe – more commonly known as Malware. So common in fact that over 560,000 new pieces of Malware are detected every day, with over 1 billion programs across the globe causing over 10.5 billion attacks as of August 2022.

Malware is essentially some code or a file that is delivered over a network in order to attack by infecting, stealing or deleting data, or by carrying out a specific task as directed by the attacker. This might include stealing sensitive customer data, infecting and corrupting important files, or deleting vital information. Whatever the motivation or malicious activity, it is something businesses must be aware of, and businesses should learn how to prevent, recognise and respond appropriately to such attacks.  

Types of Malware attack

Malware is now very common and sophisticated and can take many forms;

  • Ransomware.

Not particularly subtle, and very confrontational, a business will know pretty quickly if they are the victim of such an attack. A Ransomware attack involves the attacker blocking access to certain files on a device until a ransom is paid.

  • Spyware.

Often carried out via SMS or email, the attacker will ‘spy’ on an individual to collect information such as bank card details or log in credentials.

  • Worms.

Starting in one location, worms grow to work their way round a number of devices to spread a virus, deliver Malware or clog bandwidth, while remaining active on all devices.

  • Adware.

Works to gain an insight into what users are interested in by generating and displaying unwanted and often fake pop-up advertisements with the hope of getting the user to click.

  • Trojan.

As its name suggests, this is a vehicle for a hidden attack. Portrayed as trustworthy software, but once downloaded the software will install Malware. This type of attack accounts for 58% of all computer Malware and can be extremely efficient.

  • Botnets.

Not Malware as such, but a network where Malware can be performed. The attacker will infect devices with ‘bots’ and remotely send commands to them. The attacker can then gain control of the device to perform an attack.

How to spot the signs

Just because you have the latest, flashiest device, it does not exempt you from Malware attack. Malware attacks can happen on any device, and on any operating system. Hackers have even recently developed Malware to destroy antivirus barriers.

There are a number of warning signs you should be looking out for.

  • Your device suddenly starts running much slower than usual
  • Your storage space has dramatically reduced without you using more storage
  • Unwanted adverts are starting to appear on your browser
  • You receive an email or message demanding money to access files
  • You receive an email or message asking for personal or financial information from an unknown or suspicious source

Prevention over reaction

You’re not alone in this battle. Every 60 seconds, 4 businesses fall victim to Malware attacks.

In 2021 74% of businesses experienced some form of Malware activity that spread from one employee to another, in 2022 this is up to 75% so far. While Malware can usually be removed, it can be a gruelling task. With this in mind, we’ve put together some tips for preventing Malware attacks, which you can share with your colleagues, to help you all work together to keep your business network safe from attack.

  • Run regular Malware scans on all devices to catch any attacks early and prevent spreading. Most cyber security or antivirus software will include something like this
  • Ensure devices and software are regularly updated
  • Be wary when opening email attachments and links. Make sure the source is trusted, and if in doubt, double check by making a phone call or searching online without clicking on any links in the email
  • Do not trust pop-up windows that ask you to download software. Most browsers have settings you can put in place to prevent pop-ups full stop
  • Limit file sharing via email, instead use Cloud or shared storage, controlled by internal processes
  • Anti-mal software is available, but many cyber security and anti-virus providers include this as standard, so it is worth checking

If there was one thing for you to take away from this article, it is to ‘exercise caution’. If something is suspicious, check before you respond. If you would like any support with setting up or adjusting your network to make a Malware attack more difficult, or if you have any questions, please reach out to our experts.

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