Cybercriminals design malware to exploit vulnerable systems without user interaction being required – on the one hand, and craft attacks that take advantage of unaware (untrained) computer users, in which user interaction is required – on the other hand.
The second part, of this two part attack approach, can only be defeated if the computer user is aware of current Internet threats. So, knowledge and experience, are critical ingredients in the never ending and escalating battle against cybercriminals.
In order to defeat attacks which rely on exploiting vulnerable systems, the preferred method to do so is – the implementation of a layered security approach. Employing layered security should (I emphasize should), lead to the swift detection of malware, before any damage occurs on the targeted system.
Let’s talk real world:
Given existing technology, no single security application is capable of providing adequate computer system protection. Gaps exist in protection capabilities in even the most sophisticated security applications.
Layering (or stacking) security applications, offers the best chance of remaining infection free, by closing those gaps. Keep in mind however, that even the best layered protection strategy will not make up for the lack of experience, and intuitiveness, of many computer users.
So, stopping the bad guys from gaining a foothold has to be a primary objective of that layered defense strategy that I mentioned earlier. And, part of that strategy includes, raising barriers at the doorway to the system – the Internet browser.
The Modern Malware Review (March 2013), a statistical analysis performed by Palo Alto Networks which focused on malware that – “industry-leading antivirus products” failed to detect – noted a persistent trend.
From the report:
90% of unknown malware delivered via web-browsing
Given that the samples were captured by the firewall, we were able to identify the application that carried the malware. While web-browsing was found to be the leading source of malware both in terms of total malware as well as undetected malware, the application mix was very different between the two groups.
For example, SMTP accounted for 25% of the total malware, but only 2% of the fully undetected malware. Comparatively, web-browsing dominated both
categories, accounting for 68% of total malware, but over 90% of undetected samples. This clearly shows that unknown malware is disproportionally more likely to be delivered from the web as opposed to email.
Another brick in the wall:
Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit (formerly Zero Vulnerability Labs ExploitShield) – a free “install and forget” Internet browser security application (which I installed several days ago) – is designed to protect users from unknown “zero-day” vulnerability exploits aimed at Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Opera……..
As well, protection is also included for selected browser components – Java, Adobe Reader, Flash, and Shockwave. Added protection is incorporated for Microsoft Office components – Word, Excel, PowerPoint.
Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit protects users where traditional security measures fail. It consists of an innovative patent-pending application shielding technology that prevents malicious exploits from compromising computers through software vulnerabilities.
Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit is free for home users and non-profit organizations. It includes all protections needed to prevent drive-by download targeted attacks originating from commercial exploit kits and other web-based exploits.
These type of attacks are used as common infection vectors for financial malware, ransomware, rogue antivirus and other types of nastiest not commonly detected by traditional blacklisting antivirus and security products.
Installation is a breeze and, on application launch, a simple and uncomplicated interface is presented.
Clicking on the “Shields” tab will provide you with a list of applications protected by Anti-Exploit – as shown below.
As a reminder that Anti-Exploit is up and running, a new Icon – as shown in the following screen shot, will appear in the system tray.
System requirements: Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP.
Download at: MajorGeeks
The good news: Each of us, in our own way, has been changed by the world of wonders that the Internet has brought to us. Twenty years on, and I’m still awestruck. I suspect that many of us will be thunderstruck by applications and projects yet to be released.
The bad news: The Internet has more than it’s fair share of criminals, scam and fraud artists, and worse. These lowlifes occupy a world that reeks of tainted search engine results, malware infected legitimate websites, drive-by downloads and bogus security software.
When travelling in this often dangerous territory, please be guided by the following: Stop – Think – Click. The bad guys – including the corrupted American government – really are out to get you.
The Modern Malware Review is a 20 page PDF file packed with data which provides a real-world perspective on malware and cybercrime. I recommend that you read it.