Like human disease vectors, computer viruses can spread quickly and are capable of causing millions (if not billions) of dollars in damage. The 2017 Wannacry ransomware worm, for example, affected over 200,000 PC users and cost millions in data recovery.
If you are relying on traditional antivirus protections to keep your personal or business data secure, you may be leaving yourself (and your data) vulnerable to newer and more sophisticated malware attacks.
Defining the Problem
Traditional antivirus software was developed to address generic malware attacks. These attacks do not spread automatically and require direct intervention by a malicious actor to reach their target. These traditional threats can use CD-ROMs, email attachments, internet downloads, and peer-to-peer networks to enter your system and access its sensitive data.
While traditional antivirus software is very effective in blocking these sorts of cyberattacks, traditional generic malware only accounts for about 12% of today’s total malware attacks. The other 88% of attacks include web malware, email malware, ransomware, and other advanced forms of cybercrime that are far harder for traditional safeguards to detect.
The core problem is that traditional antivirus software only guards against known (previously identified) threats. But today’s cybercriminals are savvy and adaptable, using advanced methods to create unique and hard-to-detect novel viruses that can attack personal devices or entire networks. And such attacks are becoming more common. Fileless malware attacks (where users do not need to download or open a file to trigger a virus) accounted for more than a third of total malware attacks in 2018, and the trend shows no signs of slowing.
Understanding the Solution
Given the variety and veracity of today’s malware attacks, it’s clear that a one-size-fits-all solution won’t fix the problem. That’s why many businesses and individuals are turning to predictive antivirus protections. Machine learning has made exciting advances in recent years, and today’s predictive antivirus programs are able to detect bits of suspicious or potentially malicious code far more effectively than traditional methods.
So, how does predictive antivirus work? Basically there are two ways to screen potentially problematic code. The static method extracts core features of suspect code (such as hashes and header information) and compares them against features of known malicious code to determine whether a file, attachment, or download is a threat. Although not foolproof, the static method is fast because it doesn’t require defenders to observe how the virus might behave. The drawback, however, is that static protections don’t yield as much information about the virus (or its maker).
The dynamic method, by contrast, observes and analyzes a code’s executable behavioral features in a safe environment to determine whether the code represents a threat. By watching how code behaves, dynamic antivirus protections can examine key technical features—including application program interfaces (APIs), registry keys, domain names, IP addresses, and file path locations—and can “learn” from these observed patterns to better help identify future threats. Running a program to determine its intent does require more time and analysis than simply examining its static features, but offers defenders an agile and adaptable weapon in the fight against cybercrime and malicious viruses.
At Waterdog Computer Works, we understand how important it is to keep your sensitive personal and business data secure. Our experienced technicians are familiar with the latest antivirus products and cybersecurity protocols. We can evaluate your needs to match you with the most appropriate cybersecurity products available. Why place your personal, business, or other sensitive data at risk? Contact Waterdog Computer Works and let us help protect you from cybercrime!
Located in Wayne, Pa, Waterdog Computer Works is a complete IT solutions and cybersecurity provider serving businesses throughout Main Line Philadelphia. Focused and responsive, Waterdog Computer Works offers a two-hour emergency response time guarantee, no-risk contracts and a team of technicians with over 75 years of combined experience. Call us at 484.580.8568 to speak to a member of our team.