In a world where cyberattacks are becoming an ever-growing concern, business and private individuals need to be more cautious than ever not to fall into the traps that malicious actors are setting. For as long as malicious actors have been around, civilizations have tried to safeguard what is precious to them through security. The only thing that has changed is that we call it cybersecurity now and that it has become so much more complex than it was a century ago. One of the greatest cyber threats we are facing in this modern age is to have our networks or IoT devices infected with malware.
Malware is a type of software application specifically designed to infiltrate systems for malicious ends in mind. These applications typically work by exploiting some shortcomings or vulnerabilities in a system. Whether it utilizes social engineering or enters through backdoors opened by a rootkit, there is always an operational pattern cybersecurity specialists can identify by analyzing the malware, reducing the incident response time through accurate countermeasures. Confidentiality, integrity, and availability are the three basic pillars of effective cybersecurity. Here we want to take a specific look at the availability dimension of cybersecurity.
The availability pillar refers to both the availability of services as well as the availability of information and general system up-time. One of the essential functions that cybersecurity analysts perform is the critical analysis of malware. This process is often automated too, by using advanced software applications with built-in artificial intelligence detection and reverse engineering models.
The practice of malware analysis has become an industry standard for software vendors who generate heuristic models for malware detection. These models are then applied by evaluating applications running or trying to run on personal and networked systems, speeding up the detection of malware. The information gathered through malware analysis is invaluable to the cybersecurity industry. Malware analysis has evolved very much over the last decade. This is due to the availability of more affordable top-tier processing power. More role players have entered the industry and shared their collective knowledge about the characteristics of several types of malware.
Consider the following:
A ransomware attack is executed by a malicious actor who accesses a target system and encrypts the data of the victim using an unknown encryption key. The malicious actor then holds the targeted data for ransom. The victim is given a choice between paying the malicious actor and having their data deleted, or worse, being made available for public consumption on the internet. In a recent article by ThreatPost; malware analysis was brought into public view when a repository of ransomware source code was leaked onto the internet in early 2022. The code was created by the Conti ransomware gang and has left many victims in their wake. Malware analysts were able to reverse engineer the source code to supply their clients with effective protection against this specific threat.
This kind of malware, although it replicates itself on host systems, does not infect all the software on a system. It, instead, searches for specific vulnerabilities which can potentially be exploited by a malicious actor. Automated malware analysis implemented to scan incoming emails as well as firewall traffic would safeguard the organization from this kind of attack. Addressing the original vulnerability through regular security updates and patching of systems also goes a long way in protecting the organization.
Trojans is a very aptly named type of malware. Trojans pretend to be legitimate software packages that trick people into downloading and installing them onto their systems. This would typically take place through files revied via email or links on untrusted websites. Although social engineering plays a significant role in getting users to install the software malware analysis can be utilized here. This is because the heuristics patterns of trojans can be identified in time by the automated malware analysis software. The trojan would be contained in a safe location to be deleted.
The cyberthreats that corporate industries face are real, and the tactics of malicious actors are becoming exceedingly complex daily. Having an automated malware analysis solution protecting your organization might just mean the difference between safe and exposed.