Last year was rife with cybersecurity horror stories, from major global attacks like the WannaCry ransomware to the Equifax data breach. In 2018, we’ve already seen our fair share of major vulnerabilities (think Meltdown and Spectre). These serve as reminders that every industry is fair game for a cyberattack.
Even though IT professional have been hard at work patching systems to prevent data leaks and security threats, cybercriminals are only getting smarter. In one Ponemon Institute study, 70% of organizations perceived a significant increase in security risk in 2017, leading to greater focus on developing more robust security efforts.
Now, there’s a new type of cybercrime in town, and it’s foregoing traditional methods. Here’s what you need to know about the fileless attack.
What’s a fileless attack?
Since the early days of computers, we’ve been taught to be wary of executable files, which have the potential to carry malicious codes and malware. To date, experts have developed security systems that identify and remove malicious files, largely addressing these traditional issues.
But fileless attacks don’t rely on downloadable executable files as an entryway into a system. Rather, fileless attack techniques can include in-memory code injections, script-based droppers, registry-residence through auto-run registry entries and/or living off the land, where attackers use reputable programs as a launching point for their attacks.
Why you should care
Fileless techniques make it easier for attackers to avoid detection. These nearly invisible attacks use an organization’s own tools to work against it, making it easier and cheaper to launch an attack—and more difficult to track its origins and attackers. Because these attacks don’t write any code into the file system, file scanners can’t detect the presence of this malware, which can allow it to go undetected for longer periods. And since it’s difficult to detect these attacks, it’s more likely that they’ll be successful—10 times more likely, in fact.
File-based attacks using .exe, .doc, .bat and .pdf have been on the decline over the last few years. Many of the things we thought we knew about cybersecurity are coming into question as cybercriminal minds and tactics evolve with technology. Last year, 77% of successful cyber attacks used fileless techniques, and the Ponemon Institute projects that a third of attacks in 2018 will do the same.
What you can do to prevent a fileless attack
Because fileless attacks can fly silently under the radar for a long time before being found and excavated, it’s vital to take offensive measures.
Patch your systems
Patching up vulnerabilities for a hardened endpoint is crucial to fighting off attacks and maintaining a healthy network and operating system.
Know your attacker
Fighting an unseen enemy is a major challenge. But if you understand its methods and markers, your chance of victory goes up.
Have a plan
Because fileless attacks are able to bypass traditional cybersecurity measures, it’s vital to have an offensive plan in place to avoid infection and attacks.
Including a cybersecurity partner in your security plan can help you patch your systems and reduce your chances of falling victim to malicious intent.
Cyber attackers are constantly evolving and upheaving organizations’ abilities to protect sensitive data. Knowing and understanding the latest trends in cyberattacks can help set you up for greater success in your own cybersecurity efforts. To find out how you can amp your organization’s protection against the unseen cyberenemy, contact our team today.