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Malware and Security Everywhere

We’re at war – no two ways about it. Every four seconds, a new piece of malware is invented designed to steal our data and our money. We’re all trying to run our businesses, manage our teams, help our clients, look after our families. Hackers are paid to do nothing but write malware and attack us. It’s how they make their money. You and your data is their whole business.

Malware is described as “software that is specifically designed to disrupt, damage, or gain unauthorized access to a computer system”.

There are many types of malware and they can take many forms. The most well-known (infamous) and common types are virus, trojan, worm, ransomware, adware, spyware and file-less malware. Details are as follows:

  • Virus: These have been around almost as long as computers. Most of us heard this term first when we started hearing about cybercrime and that’s why we’ve included It in this list. A virus is activated when a user opens an infected file. The virus then spreads from file to file, as each is opened throughout the working day. Because of this, they’re reasonably hard to get rid of as most antivirus software will simply delete or quarantine the infected files rather than eliminating the virus itself. In today’s sophisticated world of cybercrime, however, viruses are becoming less common – only around 10% of all malware these days is virus-based. This doesn’t mean you don’t need protection from them though! There are still some ‘old school’ hackers out there!
  • Trojan: These are sneaky so and sos! They masquerade as legitimate files and programmes appearing in emails (this is called phishing) and pop-ups and once the user clicks on it, the malicious code is activated. Because the user initiates the download, Trojans often bypass security software. This is just one example of why it’s so important staff receive on-going training to keep this type of stealth attack ‘top of mind’.
  • Worm: These are self-replicating and, once they’ve been activated by a person clicking on ‘that’ link in an email (again - phishing) or from a pop-up, a worm will spread all by itself. It could compromise an entire network in just a few minutes along with any connected devices such as printers along with any device connected over the WiFi. That takes out your entire system.
  • Adware: This is malware that come in the form of adverts with hidden malicious code that will then infect your device. Some will actively divert you away to a page that you think you’re interested in but actually it’s a mock-up of a legitimate site. If you enter any personal details, i.e. to purchase something, it will steal your data and card details – your purchased item will never materialise. You’ll then spend a lot of time trying to recoup your losses.
  • Ransomware: This type of attack downloads malicious code that encrypts your files and locks them out of your reach. You’ll see an on-screen pop-up demanding a ransom be paid, usually in Bitcoin, before they will give you the key that will decrypt your files. And by files, we mean all your data, from your database records to your emails, accounting packages – everything. Unfortunately, cybercriminals are not generally bothered as to whether you get those files back or not – after all, they’re unlikely to return to hack you again because they know the adage ‘once bitten twice shy’. If they tried again, they’ll find you have security measures in place (won’t you!), so they’ll move on to easier prey. In around 20% of cases, the decryption code is never sent or if it is, it doesn’t work. Please note, 91% of all ransomware attacks occur as a result of phishing.
  • Spyware: As it says on the tin, this type of malware spies on systems and the people using them. This could literally be accessing the camera or microphone, but more likely will involve hackers accessing your screen, so they can see every site you visit, every email you send and receive. If a key-logger is involved, they’ll be tracking every keystroke, so they’ll be able to capture every login detail to every website or system you enter.
  • File-less malware: This is pretty clever stuff. Essentially, rather than relying on code to infect your computer, the hackers hijack tools already built-in to Windows and then turns Windows against itself. So elegant is this type of attack, it leaves no signature for antivirus software to trace. Hackers usually target Powershell or Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) because every Windows machine has them and they are capable of executing commands. Because they’re legitimate programmes, antivirus software thinks any action they carry out must also be legitimate.

Mac user? Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security! We’ve seen a significant rise in malware aimed at MacOS. OSX.Dok, distributed by phishing - we did say 91% of all malware occurs as a result of phishing! It installs multiple Apple domains into the file hosts, then redirects them and connects to the Dark Web and starts sending user data. Your details will remain on the Dark Web until someone buys them and hacks you. This is an excellent reason not to EVER reuse a password! Oh, and as for your existing passwords – still relying on Keychain to keep them stored and safe? Guess what KeyStealDaemon does. That’s right - it steals all the information stored in MacOS Keychain.

So, here’s the question: who still feels they have enough security protecting their systems?

It’s not all doom and gloom. Two things should be obvious: firstly, email is your biggest vulnerability. Having an email protection system that will quarantine dodgy emails so they don’t even hit your inbox is going to go a long way to mitigating against inadvertent clicks on suspect links. It also eliminates tonnes of spam, so your team will spend less time hitting delete and more time hitting the phones. Back this up with regular staff training to keep them on the look-out and you’re in with a fighting chance. Westtek Solutions can help you with both of these.

Secondly, antivirus software alone will not protect you from the majority of threats out there. Instead, you need a more sophisticated system capable of looking for the behaviours malware triggers. Threats are identified, quarantined and eliminated within seconds. Back that security up with a team of cyber experts who monitor your systems 24/7, 365 and you’re in a far stronger, safer position! It might interest you to know, Westtek Solutions can provide this for less than 50p per machine, per day.

Running a business brings its own headaches and sleepless nights. Worrying about data theft (and associated GDPR penalties!) doesn’t have to be one of those things keeping you up. We’re here to help protect you. Tick one thing off your list so you can get on with the business of recruiting! Call Westtek on 020 3195 0555 or drop us an email to Alternatively, book a chat with Francis and ask him about ‘Security Everywhere’.


Francis West, Managing Director

020 3195 0555