Malware is the top method used in APT-related incidents. Ninety-three percent (93%) of the respondents say malware was the source of the attack.
Malware Use Grows Among Cybercriminals
The sophistication of new malware variants, coupled with continuously evolving evasion techniques, makes advanced malware a powerful tool. Over the last few years, new developments have enabled cyber attackers to silently infect user PCs with malware, using techniques like drive-by downloads, watering-hole attacks, malvertising and exploitation of vulnerabilities in other end-user applications. They enabled cyber attackers to silently grab information from compromised PCs. This information typically includes login credentials, Web-application data as well as data from emails and documents. In some cases, malware can even provide full remote control over the infected machine. Sophisticated evasion techniques ensure that the malware remains undetected and the breach progresses stealthily.
Employee PCs Used as Pivot Points into the Network
As for employee PCs, they continue to be an easy target. One reason is the users. Many employees use their PCs to access external websites, open email attachments and download documents and applications for work or personal reasons. Using sophisticated social-engineering schemes, cybercriminals manipulate these users to open weaponized or compromised content, which can silently download malware on employee PCs. User awareness programs have helped reduce risky behaviours of employees, making employees aware of the risk associated with accessing untrusted websites and opening untrusted files. Still, user awareness programs have not completely eliminated the risk of malware infections.
PC Protection Needed
The second reason is lack of effective protection on the PCs. Most employee PCs are still protected only with antivirus software, which cannot provide the defences needed for preventing advanced malware infections on its own. While network detection solutions can help reduce the number of malware infections, they do not eliminate malware infections completely. Evasion techniques added to advanced malware were specifically designed to bypass these detections, for example, by verifying that a real user PC has been reached before the malware starts executing. This is why it is important to add advanced malware protection on the employee endpoint.
External Access to the Corporate Network
Surfing the Web on unprotected public Wi-Fi networks increases the risk of malware infections. If employees then use infected PCs to access corporate resources and sensitive business data, the cyber attacker can grab information that will allow network infiltration.
Today more than ever, it is critical to protect employee PCs against advanced malware with effective endpoint security tools. While this is especially critical for employee endpoints that are used for accessing sensitive systems and data, this is important for all employee endpoints. Once a machine that can access the network is compromised, it enables the launch of an attack from within the network. This enables the attacker to do a lot more than from the outside. By using a compromised system to launch attacks, the attacker has not only better access to systems and resources, but also more chances of remaining undetected.