Why CIOs should not underestimate malware threats

It is a truth universally acknowledged that every device on
earth–mobile or desktop—has a seer possibility of being infected
by some sort of malware at one point of time in one form or the
other. However, the propensity of a malware attack is a subject of
dispute. Served in myriad, disguised forms, this keeps CIOs/CISOs/IT
managers in every organization always on the heels perennially. Given
the threat landscape becoming complex, it is important for CIOs and

It is a truth universally acknowledged that every device on
earth–mobile or desktop—has a seer possibility of being infected
by some sort of malware at one point of time in one form or the
other. However, the propensity of a malware attack is a subject of
dispute. Served in myriad, disguised forms, this keeps CIOs/CISOs/IT
managers in every organization always on the heels perennially. Given
the threat landscape becoming complex, it is important for CIOs and
individuals to understand the need to deal with malware threats in
time. But it is seen that most organizations take these threats
lightly. They are potential danger to a company’s data and an
individual’s privacy.

Malware travels through a number of means such
as malicious URLs, SMS phishing (also known as smishing), application
downloads, file transfers, pen drives, advertisements, etc. Since the
threat landscape has shifted to mobile because of increased usages of
the mobile internet through smart devices, malware threats on mobile
platforms have witnessed a sudden spike. 

Terrifying threat landscape
A study commissioned and
conducted by NQ Mobile shows the facts how mobile platforms have
increasingly turned into hotspots for malware enthusiasts. The study
finds that malware threats in general on mobile platforms grew 163 %
in 2012. With data collected through its security labs, NQ discovered
more than 65,000 identified distinct forms of app repackaging,
malicious URLs and SMS phishing. Since Android is a widely used
platform, most attacks (95%) were geared towards Andriod devices.
This is a swashbuckling figure.

Another study points at how social media is turning into a hotbed
of malware. Facebook users often get attacked with different kind of
malware that loops users through seductive links and free apps. One
of the most prolific malware strains was the Koobface program that
targets social media users with fake messages which appear as sent by
the family members, friends or other acquaintances. The messages urge
them to follow a link to a malicious location where they will be
offered a Flash update. However, if the individual agrees to
download, his or her system becomes infected with a virulent strain
of malware allowing hackers to deploy the machine’s computing
resources to their botnet campaigns.

Omnipresent malware has built up a threat landscape where keeping
users in a secured environment is becoming a challenge. Malware has
sought ways to penetrate into every platform we use—internet
browsing on desktops, enterprise networks, social networks and mobile
phones, among others. Even the app stores which have gained
popularity due to the rising use of smartphones and tablets are
serving malware in thick volumes. A Trend Micro study reveals that
292,091 apps on Google Play store were found malicious. Around 22% of
these malicious apps were found indulged in leaking the user
information to third party. Trend Micro has also predicted that
malicious and high-risk Android apps will hit 1 million sometime this

Similarly advertisements appearing on the mobile phones somehow
and in few cases are serving malware (also known as adware). While
not inherently malicious, adware is often abused by cybercriminals
for their own gains. Adware not only employs aggressive advertising
tactics like persistent notifications, but also collects the user
information which can be construed as a violation of the user’s

Never underestimate threats
While malware poses a sever
threat to a company or individual, it is often seen that they do not
take them seriously. Most companies greatly underestimate the number
of malicious programs appearing daily, a global survey commissioned
by Kaspersky Lab of more than 2,000 IT professionals underlines. It
is when nearly 200,000 new malware samples appear around the world
each day. Many of the IT professionals do not even keep regular track
of the malware threats which points out at their lax approach to deal
with the threats.

Building security
CIOs must take cognizance of the
threats which can compromise the privacy of their company and
employee data. A lax approach only leaves door ajar for
cybercriminals and is not in the interest of their organization and
its long term goals. Trends indicate we’ll only encounter more
attacks, designed creatively. In a recent instance, security
researchers discovered a new type of malware that uses an Android
device as a launch platform for infecting a target computer via USB.
So malware are now being designed exclusively to target a specific
device. This kind of malware might be difficult to identify. Thus, it
is urgent for IT personnels to equip with systems and solutions in
place that can detect threats in advance of infection and prevent



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