How Does Malware Spread in a Network

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Different types of malware will affect your network in different ways but no threat should be taken lightly. System downtime, data loss, and ransoms can make it difficult to reach your mission-critical goals. However, preventing negative outcomes is possible if you understand how malware spreads.

Malware That Finds Holes in Network Security

Like vampires in classic stories, malware generally must be invited inside. The trouble is that, depending on the size of your organization, there are potentially hundreds of doors where malware could be invited in. When users visit certain web pages, click links in emails, or download attachments, there is a risk of malware infection. Below, we’ll explore how ransomware, trojan malware, or a computer virus can spread throughout your system 

Finding the Cracks

When a hacker is trying to break into any system, the best way into your system is to find the path of least resistance. One of the most common attack vectors today is through phishing attacks that aim to trick email users into clicking links or opening attachments. 

Sometimes, these emails are easy to spot. Many might contain spelling errors, come from “internal departments” that don’t actually exist in your organization, or other giveaways. These types of phishing attacks are generally sent out to thousands or more email addresses at a time in the hope that even just one person will fall for the trap.

More sophisticated attacks will include carefully written emails that are designed to look authentic. These can target multiple individuals in a specific organization or, in the case of what is called a “spearphishing” attack, may be designed for only one individual. These attacks are more likely to succeed because, if an email looks like it is coming from an authentic source, it is more likely that a user will click through to the next page or download an attachment.

Depending on the type of malware, it may now spread via various means. The malicious program may be designed to spread directly to critical systems. This may require that a user enter login information into a fraudulent portal via a link in the email. Once this information is provided, hackers could have everything they need to enter your systems, steal data, or lock other users out until a ransom is paid.

Other attacks could simply be focused on taking over the email of the user who falls for the phishing scheme. Now, with access to a trusted user’s email, they could engage in a more targeted spearphishing attack. This is a viable strategy to travel up a chain at an organization to get more access from higher-level staff.

Prevention

Your best chance to prevent data loss and system downtime is to ensure hackers never breach your systems in the first place. To reduce your risk, firewalls and other strategies can be critical, but training is the ideal long term solution.

Unless your employees know the threats to look out for, it’s unlikely that they will be able to avoid phishing traps. Virtual Technologies Group can help companies develop robust policies for your company that mitigate the risks that come with operating a business in today’s environment. It’s virtually impossible to operate a business without IT, so a comprehensive set of policies around avoiding threats is absolutely essential.

Once you have IT best practices in place, we can provide ongoing training so that your staff is kept up to date with the latest developments in the field.

Phishing scams are one of the most common ways malware enters your system. To avoid costly downtime and data loss, understanding these threats is an important first step.

Varieties of Malware

Hackers and cyber criminals will use a variety of methods to infect your system and get access to your data, but the goals are often the same. Trojan malware is designed to look like friendly or otherwise legitimate software. Ransomware is growing in popularity in recent years and is designed to hold your systems in an unusable state until a ransom is paid, usually in the form of bitcoin, to the hackers responsible. Computer viruses are specifically defined as malicious software that is designed to make changes to friendly software in your system, often while staying hidden. 

Other types, like adware, are designed to expose a user to unwanted advertising that directs them to unwanted web pages that may contain other types of malware. Spyware, another type, is used for functions like tracking keystrokes or even accessing webcams. 

None of these types of malware are mutually exclusive, and hackers can use a variety of strategies to get into your systems. To learn more about the threat landscape for businesses and see if your cybersecurity is ready to meet the challenge, don’t hesitate to reach out to Virtual Technologies Group today!.

Posted Under:Cyber Security

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