By Sean Newman, Security Evangelist, at Sourcefire, now part of Cisco
There are more than 2,500 species of mosquito in the world, each as capable as the next of causing infection.
Of course, there are numerous ways to protect yourself, but each method has its limitations. You can’t walk around and be completely covered – sound waves and fans have mixed results and, increasingly, mosquitoes are developing resistance to many pesticides.
Like mosquitoes, malware seems to be everywhere, takes many forms and is becoming increasingly resistant to traditional prevention approaches – making it incredibly difficult to stop. Malware will use whatever unprotected path exists to reach its target and accomplish its mission.
According to the 2013 Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report, malware is among the most common methods of attack along with hacking and social engineering. Increasingly, blended threats are also being used, with phishing, malware and hacking being used to infiltrate networks, steal data and disrupt critical systems over long periods of time.
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Evolving trends of mobility, cloud computing and collaboration are paving the way for new malware attacks which were not anticipated a few years ago. Smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices have become essential business tools and it is becoming easier to design malware to attack them via downloaded apps, exposing companies to greater risk. Extending networks to include business partners combined with an increasing reliance on third-party services is also making businesses more prone to attacks and putting them at a higher risk of being compromised.
Traditional defences are becoming much less effective in helping organisations deal with latest cyber security challenges, including the growing proliferation and sophistication of attack vectors and the greater attack surface created by today’s complex IT environments. Anti-malware technology needs a revolution rather than an evolution to ensure it can keep up with the rate at which attackers are innovating. It’s more imperative than ever to find the right security solutions that can easily adapt to meet the changing needs of business networks and cover the extended network, including endpoints, email, web, mobile devices, data centres and cloud.
Inevitably, some malware will get through and it is therefore critical that organisations use continuous monitoring and analysis in order to detect and understand these threats as they occur. Networks are not getting any simpler, and neither will attacks, so it is not practical to just keep adding more controls. Therefore, it is important to have an integrated system of agile and open platforms that enables centralised monitoring and management across the entire attack surface.
Like mosquitoes, malware is a formidable adversary that only needs a very small gap in cover to attack, with one cyber bite having serious implications on your IT network’s health.