Malware basically stands for ‘malicious software’. Malware is any program that is designed and created to be an intrusion as an unwanted or a harmful piece of software to the device’s user. Malware has the potential to cause significant damages such as loss of privacy, data breaches, network intrusions and financial losses as well. Malnets are short for malware networks. Due to this, it is important to know how to defend against malware and malnets and ensure malware protection as well as protection against malnets.
Malnets and their dangers
Malnets are huge swarms of websites and servers that are fundamentally set up to work together in the sole aim to bring unsuspecting victims into a malware program, while often using reliable, dependable websites as the starting point. This is as frightening as it sounds, as a malnet contains hundreds of different servers, each one set up for different tasks.
Some malware within the malnet strike with spam, some with the scam, and others with phishing attacks and so on. These servers are farmed and located in various countries around the world. All the more reason to be proactive in knowing how to defend against malware and malnets. It is imperative that malware security is considered by organizations as a fundamental part of cyber security.
A recent example of a Malnet attack is that of the Shnakule malnet, which showed the reality of tackling malnets. With attackers working as malnet operators having the ability to easily and quickly change the location of malnet components, it was shown that:
- In January, Only 3.3 percent of all of Snakule’s spam and scam servers were located in North America.
- A further 60 percent was located in Russia.
- Come July, the servers had already changed, with old ones shut down and new ones coming to the fore. The percentage in North America spiked to 39.75 percent, comprising of Spam and Scam servers.
- Western Europe witnessed an increase to 36.44 percent, up from 16.67 percent.
One of the inherent malnet dangers is that they have the capabilities to launch multiple attacks at the same time. This is done to foster chaos and confusion, which helps in slower response times to combating such malware attacks. A high-profile attack on MySQL.com rendered the website into a host server for serving malware to its visitors. That particular attack was a mere smokescreen for hundreds of other attacks launched by the malnet on the same day.
“We took a look at the malnet involved in that,” Van Der Horst, a prominent malware researcher said. “We were amazed. It was just a drop in the bucket compared to what else that malnet was doing that day. The bad guys are there 24/7, and they’ve got a lot of resources that they’re using to try to infect users.”
How to Defend your Organization against Malnets
Here are five simple steps to gear yourself in protecting your organization against malware threats and malnet attacks.
- Use a proactive, high-grade security solution that can detect and instantly block malnet infrastructures as well as limiting employee exposure to botnet-induced Trojans.
- Ensure stringent and clear policies that instruct and require employees to constantly update their Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash, Java, browsers and Operating System, as well as other programs and applications with the latest patches security and program updates and patches. This includes zero-day patches which assert the real possibility of a threat as well.
- Install a differentiating algorithm which helps in identifying those likely infected systems and networks within the organization. This will help you disconnect them from the remainder of the network and organization infrastructure to curb the spread of a malnet attack.
- Enforce strict policies that dictate network and firewall rules are always up to date and current.
- Doubly check your security solution to see if it is capable of blocking communications from infected end-user systems to command and control servers which help prevent critical and confidential data from your organization, doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
Malnets are among the most aggressive, far-reaching, powerful tools used by cybercriminals in their attempts to penetrate and breach companies and organizations. Even though they are nearly impossible to kill, it is important to pay heed to the steps above, which will go a long way to protecting your organization.