The term “malware” refers to “malicious software,” which encompasses viruses, trojans, spyware, adware and ransomware for example.
Computer malware isn’t new. In fact, we’ve been fighting it and the damage it causes for as long as I have been on this planet, and then some. To clear matters up, that’s at least thirty-three years.
Traditional viruses were originally written to perform little or no damage, mostly carrying out tasks such as displaying silly messages on the computer screen. Virus development grew. This meant the payloads they delivered carried out more serious tasks such as erasing computer hard drives and stealing sensitive information. Trojans purported to be legitimate safe programs such as antivirus applications, which in reality were delivering a nasty payload in the background, unknown to the user.
Further development in the mid 00’s brought us adware and spyware which bombarded our computer screens with relentless adverts and popup messages every time we went online. Spyware spied on our internet surfing habits and stole our important login details such as those required to login to online banking or shopping websites.
Fast-forward ten years and we have ransomware. This is an advanced type of malware that restricts access to a computer system and/or files using encryption, until the user pays a financial ransom to the perpetrator, often by way unregulated currency such as Bitcoin. Due to the strong levels of encryption implemented in the attack, users are unable to decrypt their data. In 2017, ransomware is by far the biggest form of malware out there. For instance, take the recent “WannaCry” ransomware attack that crippled the National Health Service in the UK, the Russian government and FedEx in the U.S, to name just a few victims.
The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (DBIS) reported in 2016 that 68% of businesses surveyed had suffered some form of malware attack. This is a startling statistic considering seven in ten of those surveyed said information security was a high priority.
The DBIS also found that small businesses do not do enough to train their staff. SME’s often mistakenly believe that being small, they will not be a target for malware. This is simply not the case. Think of a fisherman casting a wide net into the ocean, and catching several thousand fish. A small percentage may escape the net, but what’s caught will range from small to large fish. That’s exactly how ransomware works. It is designed to catch anybody and everybody out no matter on their size. In fact, often the easiest targets are small businesses due to their lower prioritisation of information security for such an easy reward.
Apograph are an Information Technology consultancy who can provide your business with a security check and advise you on how to achieve best security practice to help prevent infection from any form of malware. If you wish to speak to an advisor, please call us today on 01858 455426 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.