The malware threat isn’t anything new. The first known virus was created in 1971, named “The Creeper System”,  a self-replicating code that targeted ARPANET.  Frankly, the world of information technology has enjoyed a great deal of stability since the late 90’s – early 2000’s. Happy99, ILOVEYOU, Pikachu, Code Red are all names for those who experienced them bring back memories of massive disruptions to the global workforce. Entire floors of fortune 100 companies had to yank out the physical wires to stop the spread of these pesky creations.

With the advent of the newest Windows OS we saw a sharp decline. Firewalls, antivirus, and operating system controls became very good at blocking each wave. Much like the world of biology, the threat has evolved. The newest wave of infections that took down large areas of European marketplaces was taking advantage of faults in the Window OS. These markets tend to utilize remote management and monitoring tools less and are more prone to be out of date from a patch standpoint.

The most recent outbreak is born from the advent of state-sponsored hacking technology being turned on small business. The days of single purpose, simple viruses are gone. The most recent code has a complex intelligence that figures out what the environment is and applies the logic that attacks your vulnerabilities.

Currently, the industries being targeted have national security focal points. We don’t think that will last for long. Now that this code is in the wild we expect usage of these complex threats to start targeting specific industries. The likely future involves competitive or hostile forces to start commissioning hackers to write intrusions for specific reasons and business types.

The main threat today for business is the “BitLocker” attack. The common experience involves an infected laptop that is added to your network or an attachment to an email with the virus which gets in and encrypts all your files. This “ransomware” then gives you an ultimatum to pay or lose your data. The fastest way to eliminate this threat is anti-malware & encryption software (Realnets is a Sophos reseller).

The reality is that when ransomware fades away as a primary threat something else will have emerged. We predict that there will be a new malware in coming months that will target specific verticals and the theft of specific data. The same tech that drives ransomware will be coupled with the state sponsored adaptive code recently discovered to identify what kind of network the malware is installed on.

We will see the deployment of custom malware that has a target of “engineering firms” or “electrical contractors”.  The code will go out and ignore all businesses but those it’s targeting. Once it’s stolen all the business’s data it will return the stolen goods to its master.  Organized crime will undoubtedly start brokering your business’s client lists, accounting data and customer data to the highest bidder.  An example of this could be an architectural firm with plans to a bank that could be used by a cunning thief. If that data is stolen and linked back to your organization what are the implications?

Protect your company with these keys to success:

1. Proactive implementations of next generation security solutions
2. Policy-driven oversight
3. Budgeted managed service / internal resources for monitoring and updating
4. Rock solid disaster recovery

This and other emerging threats underscore the need for next generation security solutions. Protecting your data isn’t impossible and the tools are not costly. If you are concerned and want some questions answered give the IT Realnets team a call at 773.631.6851 or email at [email protected] We have 19 years of knowledge and experience in this ever-changing digital environment.