Understanding Fileless Malware Attacks

Cyberattacks are increasing in both frequency and damage, making it necessary for business owners, IT professionals, and regular employees to understand the risks of an attack occurring. The volume of threats and types of attacks your business may be exposed to depends on your industry and your data. Nonetheless, the danger is ever-present, especially when it comes to the human element of security.

One of the most common cyber threats is malware attacks. Malware either corrupts or destroys a business’s data beyond repair or encrypts it. These attacks can also be ransomware, and an attacker may demand payment for your data’s release.

Malware is particularly harmful when it’s fileless, as this decreases the chances of security systems catching it early on before it causes excessive damage. Such attacks cost companies worldwide trillions of dollars every year and harm businesses’ reputations, making prevention a higher priority than ever before.

Fileless Malware 101

Fileless malware is a type of malicious software that doesn’t rely on executable files. Instead, it hides on a device’s memory or directly on RAM. This characteristic makes it extremely hard to detect using traditional anti-virus and anti-malware software. It works by turning the device’s system against itself, utilizing the already available files and changing their script to achieve alternative results.

The Ponemon’s Institute 2018 research report on endpoint security risks found that 77 percent of all attacks surveyed were fileless. The study also discovered that fileless malware attacks were ten times more likely to succeed and be more destructive than their traditional counterparts. As the attacks continue to increase in frequency, more research and effort are directed into prevention and response solutions.

The Consequences of Advanced Attacks

If a fileless malware attack succeeds, the consequences are often unpredictable and dire. Depending on the network, system, or database breached, attackers can steal money by rewiring it using compromised financial records. They can also leak data for malicious, ideological, or economic purposes. Fixing the system and securing it can sometimes take weeks or months, increasing the damages even further.

How to Spot and Mitigate Threats

Since fileless attacks are difficult to detect upon entry to a network, one way to spot them before they strike is by employing threat hunting. Threat hunting is the process of constantly and actively hunting for hidden threats within a network or device. It works on detecting any suspicious behavior or out-of-place code lines and scripts. This process enables it to catch fileless malware before it gets the chance to corrupt system files in its favor.

When it comes to prevention, however, it’s mostly up to your staff. Regular cybersecurity awareness education can help staff members avoid making mistakes that leave the network vulnerable to fileless attacks.

While fileless malware can come from various places, the most common infection methods are infected links within phishing emails, legitimate-looking websites, and unpatched holes in your operating system. To combat these risks, you need to teach employees to be wary of any suspicious emails and websites and immediately inform the IT department if they have any concerns about a link they clicked.

Preventative Action

While depending on your employees’ awareness is crucial, it’s just as important to invest in a system that can detect common threat channels and regularly patches up any holes in your network’s security. Humans sometimes make mistakes; tech doesn’t. It’s essential to invest in high-quality software to keep you safe. Click here to learn more about anti-malware protection software.

Like any other malicious attack, even fileless malware needs a place to get into a network, known as an endpoint or node. What next-generation anti-virus (NGAV) and endpoint detection and response (EDR) software do is keep all access points to your network secure using advanced behavioral analytics and AI to detect activity that’s out of place. If you have  your server hosted by a third party like 4D Data Centres you could potentially have something like this provided for you – check with them to see what they offer. The analytics and AI they continuously collect and analyze data from the network’s various endpoints, building up a database of normal behavior and what isn’t. Then, NGAV and EDR can detect attacks even as stealthy as fileless malware by using machine learning.

Put Your Trust in AI

Zero-day attacks are rapidly growing in frequency and damages, making up the majority of all recent cyberattacks. Just as the technology that protects data is evolving, so is the technology that compromises it. A well-educated staff and continuously learning software can prevent surprise attacks. It’s the responsibility of business owners, IT professionals, and company staff to stay on top of the latest cybersecurity developments and remain prepared.

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