10 Most Dangerous Virus & Malware Threats in 2023
Last Updated : 17 Aug, 2023
Malware-based attacks account for 80% of the cybercrime risk, specifically in the small and medium enterprises. One of the most menacing cyber crimes, Malware invasion can pose grave consequences, resulting in loss of revenue, data theft, and unexpected downtime. Not only the SMBs but several larger organisations too are struggling with the damaging implications of cyberattack, especially malware-infused attacks.
The post below offers a brief on the most dangerous malware programs to be aware of.
Most dangerous Malware and Virus Attacks
Ransomware is one of the malware programs that encrypt confidential files online to block access and then demands ransom from users. Clop is one of the latest ransomware; the variant is a notorious CryptoMix ransomware that usually targets Windows users. Before the encryption process begins, Clop blocks more than 600 processes of Windows. This also disables multiple applications of Windows which includes Microsoft Security Essentials and Windows Defender, thereby leaving null chances of data protection. The Clop Ransomware targets assets like vouchers, financial records, data backups as well as sensitive information. The ransomware is typically spread through the phishing campaigns that disguise in the form of malicious links of software updates and emails.
Some of the baseline protections that need to be undertaken for preventing devices from being infected by Clop ransomware are as follows:
- Check before clicking onto any links or email attachments.
- Make sure to download applications from authentic official sources only
- Be careful to keep your apps and system updated. Update them regularly with resources (say, tools) provided especially by official developers.
- Invest in reliable anti-spyware and anti-virus programs.
Cybercriminals are trying to deceive and target the general population by instructing them to install Windows OS updates on an urgent basis. Fantom is the ransomware that mimics Windows updates and displays false updates on the Windows screen. Once a user clicks on the updates, the ransomware starts encrypting the file and blocks his access to it. Worse, even if he attempts to close the screen by pressing Ctrl+F4, it will not prevent the files from getting encrypted. After encryption, the virus will wipe out all traces and leave the user with just the blocked encrypted file. In order to identify and bypass Fantom ransomware invasion, the user needs to be aware of suspicious incoming download or file that claims to be a legitimate Windows update in the form of WindowsUpdate.exe. Check for .fantop extension to know whether your system is infected with Fantom ransomware.
Some of the strategies and precautions that you need to undertake to prevent ransomware attack are as follows:
Maintain a data backup of sensitive and confidential files. It is also important to carry out weekly and daily backups so that even if the system is infected the data can be restored without losing a lot of data. Also, make sure, the method of data backup is not aligned to the network as there are ransomwares that can encrypt all the data across the network including backup files.
Invest in an authentic and effective Antivirus as well as update the program on a regular basis to thwart Fantom Ransomware.
Stay Updated and Vigilant:
Users need to be vigilant while installing or opening an unfamiliar website or new emails that may look suspicious. The user must download files and updates from trusted websites only.
Remind and Refresh:
Users need to review computer security at the team meeting to remind existing employees about the need to deploy good practices of security parameters.
Akira is a type of ransomware which is designed for encrypting data and modification of file names that appends as a .akira extension. The functioning of Akira ransomware depends on running a powershell command for deleting Windows Shadow Volume Copies on devices. The ransomware typically spreads in corporate networks and can target multiple devices as soon as it is able to gain access. Before the encryption of the files, ransomware avoids some of the folders which include ProgramData, Windows, Boot, Recycle Bin and System Volume Information. It also includes some of the system files which include .sys, .msi, .exe extensions.
Some of the ways to ensure protecting against ransomware infections are as follows:
- The user must refrain from opening unexpected or suspicious email attachments.
- The user must also verify the legitimacy of email before accessing the overall contents.
- The installed programs and softwares need to be updated on a regular basis in order to preserve security.
- In case your computer is infected with Akira ransomware, it is recommended to run an antivirus scan for automatic removal of ransomware.
Zeus Gameover virus is a kind of malicious software which targets Windows OS for stealing financial data. This includes Trojan Malware and comes disguised in the form of legitimate data. The virus preys on sensitive details of the bank account to steal the funds. The type of malware does not require centralized control and command server for completing transactions. This is a flaw that is found in many cyberattacks which are targeted by the authorities. In fact, the GameOver is able to bypass the centralized servers and create independent servers for sending sensitive information which minimizes the chance of tracing stolen data.
Some of the preventive measures for guarding devices against GameOver Zeus are as follows:
- Change passwords regularly for protecting the devices to maintain the overall health of the computer system.
- Keep the software updated with the regular system updates.
- Use anti malware tools that can help in fighting against zero day threats.
- Campaigns regarding phishing emails is a common method to prevent spread of malicious malware.
Fleeceware apps are specially designed for stealing personal and sensitive information by injecting devices with malicious virus or malware. Initially, fleecewear does not contain malicious code but comes up with a free trial. After using it for a certain period of time, the user is charged with expensive subscription charges. As there is nothing apparently illegal about Fleeceware, the app easily gets through the vetting process of Apple and Google. However, the users are able to realize the scam of fleeceware as soon as they are billed for the app. Some of the popular examples of Fleeceware apps are QR scanners, image searching apps, and horoscope apps. These generally targets less tech-savvy individuals by offering them monthly subscription plans.
Some of the strategies that you can use to protect against Fleeceware are as follows:
Using First-party App:
Users must download applications from the App store and Play Store instead of downloading from any third-party websites. These third-party stores tend to promote malicious applications such as Fleeceware apps.
As Fleeceware app publishers are able to purchase fake reviews, it is important to filter out the best reviews and need to analyse negative reviews.
Before purchasing any application, you need to check the other competitors. You can also consider checking the app details on Google or Reddit to see the highly recommended apps that are similar to the genre that you are considering purchasing.
After Uninstallation, Unsubscribe:
After uninstalling the subscription based applications, on iOS or Android, you need to unsubscribe all the active subscriptions to avoid unnecessary notifications.
Track Purchase History:
Ensure to periodically check the active app subscriptions based on the OS of the mobile phone.
Choose Antivirus with App Scanner:
Some of the antivirus software like Norton consist of app scanners for checking the apps before downloading. The antivirus apps house internet security tools for securing the online activities.
Rising adoption of IoT (Internet of Things) has led to increasinging exploitation of IoT devices to gain access to confidential data or information. Black-hat hackers are especially choosing to target IoT devices since these systems lack sufficient storage space for installing security measures. Mirai Botnet is one such malware that is deployed to hack IoT devices. The botnet compromises vulnerable IoT devices with brute force attacks; it launches extensive DDoS attacks on networks, websites and digital infrastructure. A more horrifying fact is that the Mirai botnet exploits the vulnerabilities using advanced technologies and eventually links the technologies together to create a network of infected devices commonly known as botnets. The devices in the botnet are further programmed to commit cyberattack at a larger level.
Some of the ways to protect IoT devices from the attacks are as below:
- The IoT devices can be kept on separate network,
- IoT devices are to be kept updated to minimize chances of infection,
- CIS benchmarks can be followed for securing configuration of the targeted system,
- Use legitimate anti-malware tools for elimination of infection.
Priorly ABCD ransomware, LockBit ransomware software is typically designed for blocking user access to the computer systems in return for ransom payment. Once LockBit hacks into target systems, it immediately infects and encrypts the accessible systems across a network. It uses Server Message Block (SMB) and Windows Powershell for spreading the ransomware. In fact, the dangerous malware is powerful enough to self-propagate without human intervention. Major targets of LockBit ransomware are government organizations and enterprises.
Some of the ways to prevent and secure systems against LockBit ransomware are as follows:
- The users can use strong passwords by choosing a lengthier and highly complicated set of characters and character variations.
- Organizations need to ensure regular backups to keep the systems updated and avoid malware contamination.
- Removal and reassessment of unnecessary permissions are essential to prevent potential dangers of malware infection.
- Patch CVE (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures) by adhering to CISA KEV warnings.
Beware all crypto miners! Your high-end crypto mining computer might be mining cryptos for someone else- and that too at the cost of your own wallet. With crypto mining gaining pace, it’s about time to know about cryptojacking malware attack. Cryptojackers are Cryptojacking malware attackers that steal mining resources of someone else’s mining device (say computer) to mine cryptos. It all starts with these attackers sending the user an apparently harmless looking malicious code through email. Once the user clicks on it, he ends up downloading and installing (unknowingly) the malicious cryptojacking code in his mining computer. While there is nothing wrong in making profit with crypto mining yet it’s certainly a ghastly crime if someone is doing it at the cost of another person’s investment. Cryptojackers steal the resources in stealth mode, completely unbeknownst to the knowledge of the actual user of the mining device.
Some of the ways to prevent crypto jacking are as follows:
- Keep devices and software updated with latest fixes and patches.
- Install software from reliable sources.
- Users can avoid clicking on unknown links as these might carry malicious scripts.
Pipedream is a type of malware software that targets industrial control systems, especially SCADA and ICS devices. These are crafted to significantly disrupt the entire industrial processes. The malware takes advantage of functionalities of the ICS environment for achieving desired malicious objectives.
Some of the prevention strategies to secure devices against Pipedream malware are as follows:
- Introduce multi-factor authentication for remote access to the ICS networks
- Implement cyber security response plans
- Limit scope of attack surfaces by installation of necessary modules and applications on controller systems
- Monitor a robust log from the devices within SCADA/ICS systems.
News Malware Attacks:
Cybercriminals use the bait of news stories and global events for targeting common people with malware. Hackers send people emails that are disguised as mails carrying legitimate information but instead consist of malware links and attachments.
- The common people need to be sure that the news is posted on a legitimate website before clicking onto any links.
- People should rely on the trusted news websites for daily updates.
Malware and virus threats are on rise. Worse, these attacks are targeting almost every organisation and individual out there. Modern malware programs are extremely sophisticated and you need to build a mighty cybersecurity infrastructure to keep these attacks at bay. But, before that, you should know about the current top malware programs that are wreaking a havoc in the current digital scene. Thus, this blog has taken up the baton to share insights on the top malware and virus threats as well as the safety tips to thwart them.
In order to gain more understanding and to learn about the cybersecurity tips and awareness strategies, refer to the courses provided by DataSpace Academy.