Technology never stands still. It continually evolves and change has become the new norm for businesses and consumers. However, quarter after quarter, one trend stays the same. This trend is the growth in volume of malware.
Intel Security’s March 2016 McAfee Labs Threats Report highlights this trend in great detail, showing a clear increase in the total volume of malware, which stands at roughly 500 million samples. A sample is a file that an individual finds on their system that is infected but not detected by the computer’s anti-virus software or files that were detected but not cleaned by the anti-virus software. Individuals are able to submit these samples directly to McAfee for review and inclusion into their daily virus definition updates to help keep other systems updated and protected from these new threats.
What’s even more disturbing about this steady growth trend is that 42 million new malware samples were detected in the fourth quarter of 2015. These new malware threats were primarily a result from the recent growth in new mobile malware, which grew by a whopping 72 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015. The chart below shows a graphical representation of this trend:
The irony of all of this is that Google patches may have actually accelerated the growth of new mobile malware. In the analysis from McAfee Labs, they explain that Google’s decision to implement a monthly patch cycle for Android devices in August 2015 actually motivated malware developers to intensify their efforts and increase the frequency of their malware development efforts.
The new trend in malware now comes in the form of Ransomware. McAfee Labs reported a 26% increase in new ransomware samples in the fourth quarter of 2015 and these new threats account for a significant number of security breaches that we are all becoming accustomed to reading about in the news today. These are very aggressive forms of malware which are designed to actually encrypt files on your computer. The latest iteration has been named Satana. I think we can all discern where this name is derived! Its name is very indicative of the harm this can cause to your personal data and to your device.
Satana uses the same tactic as other ransomware iterations but leaves the infected computer unbootable. Users will end up having their personal files encrypted and see a screen demanding a ransom payment of 0.5 bitcoin, which is approximately $340. Satana also makes it much harder for the nontechnical person to restore their system as it forces them to work through Windows recovery options from the command line and an obscure boot recovery tool.
With the threat landscape increasing and evolving nearly every day, it is important to remain vigilant. Never open emails or attachments from individuals you do not recognize, use strong and unique passwords for all of your accounts, be proactive about scanning and updating anti-virus definitions, keep your operating systems current and install malware software to supplement your anti-virus solution.
Finally, if you need help protecting your business and your network from these threats and many others, contact Envisionet today and we will work closely with you to develop a proactive strategy to guard your business and your data from these serious threats.
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