Malware is an inescapable reality in today’s cybersphere. Hackers with increasingly sophisticated methods are always looking for exploitable vulnerabilities to breach organizational security. It’s a question of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ your organization will be targeted. Hence, malware remediation tools are equally crucial as prevention. With anti-malware remediation tools, you can adequately prepare for the worst-case scenario.
What Are Anti-Malware Remediation Tools?
In the race to secure your organization with preventative measures, you might tend to overlook what to do after a successful cyberattack. Anti-malware remediation tools can help you mitigate the damage from a malware attack and respond in the best possible way.
For implementing a holistic malware breach remediation program, it’s essential to educate yourself on:
- Different types of malware
- Different systems malware can target in your organization
- Best anti-malware remediation tools
- Regulatory Compliance (e.g., HIPAA, PCI DSS)
How Does Malware Remediation Work?
No matter how comprehensive and up-to-date your cybersecurity defenses are, it’s inevitable that a hacker will eventually find a way to bypass them—and malware comprises one of the more common attacks. Therefore, your incident response plan and how you mitigate the damage constitute malware remediation.
The solutions, services, and tools that facilitate your execution of incident response plans, damage mitigation, and service delivery resumption constitute anti-malware remediation tools.
Remediation approaches often vary between the one extreme involving shutting down the affected systems entirely and successfully quarantining the malicious program to the point of entry.
Once the malware has made its way inside your systems, the remediation process begins with identifying it, containing its spread, and finally, eradicating it from all affected devices and networks.
Types of Malware
Malware comes in different shapes and forms. Though technically referring only to malicious programs intended to gain access or steal information from the target, malware has come to encompass various types of computer viruses and other threats as well.
Modern cyberattacks have grown in variety and attack methods, adding many more items to the list of different kinds of malware. Nonetheless, the most prolific ones include:
- Trojan horses
- Computer worms
- Fileless malware
As the name suggests, hackers use spyware to observe user activity via programs like keyloggers and data traffic monitors. Once installed, spyware will record your behavior and relay it back to the hackers, who can then use the data for nefarious purposes.
This can include stealing your bank details and payment information to siphon off funds from your accounts or using your browser history to blackmail you for money.
Ransomware is used to infect the target system with software that encrypts your files and renders them unusable. Hackers will usually hold your data for ransom and offer to share decryption keys with you in exchange for money or other confidential information. Often the funds are demanded in the form of a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin.
One of the biggest and well-known cyberattacks was the Wannacry ransomware attack that targeted thousands of computers worldwide and held files for ransom in exchange for Bitcoin payments.
These programs pose as legitimate software and infect the target systems once they’re downloaded or installed. They are used to disguise other types of malicious software and act as containers for them. Users usually fall victim to trojan horses by downloading untrusted websites and downloading files without proper scrutiny.
Often, the lack of robust antivirus software or misconfigurations results in trojan horses bypassing security and gaining access to the target devices.
Worms are a unique type of malware installed on systems and devices without any obvious user action. Worms are primarily used to replicate copies of themselves and infect other devices over and over. Whereas a virus—by technical definition—requires human interaction to initiate its self-replicating attack, worms don’t.
Hackers generally use worms to gain remote access to computers and execute the next stage of their planned attack. The preferred mode of delivery for worms is usually via emails or messages. In addition, worms can be coded to modify or delete files and even deplete system resources due to the creation of multiple copies.
Malvertising refers to disguising malware using legitimate placed advertisements by hackers. Even though the user is on a verified website, malvertising can lead to the installation of malware, as the ad appears genuine but is sponsored by malicious agents.
Malvertising usually infects the target device using redirects or initiating downloads upon the ads being clicked.
This category of malware is singular in nature, as it does not exist as a file or software on the target computer’s hard drive. Instead, it is a memory-based artifact that lives on the system memory (i.e., RAM) and, therefore, leaves little to no trace.
Fileless malware is much more difficult to detect and remove as even modern antivirus software (on its own) is often inadequately equipped to identify such artifacts successfully.
Common Targets of Malware Attacks
Your organization has various systems that can be targeted with sophisticated malware attacks. For example, hackers can choose to infect your data centers housing sensitive and confidential information, such as customers’ financial data or protected health information (PHI). They can also hijack your external or internal networks by using trojan horses.
Additionally, targets are certainly not limited to those on-premise. Your cloud storage can also be infected using targeted attacks exploiting security loopholes in your cloud environment and its access.
The importance of your data center security cannot be overstated. Significant portions of your organization’s internal and customer data is stored on these servers. As a result, any successful data breach threatens to not only pose considerable risks to your customers and heavy financial penalties for your organizations, but it can also cause irreparable damage to your reputation.
Data center security services aim to provide holistic protection against malware by integrating tools, services, and resources into a consistent and targeted approach. By identifying malware early and analyzing potential vulnerabilities in your existing infrastructure, you can ensure a level playing field against hackers.
In the event of a successful malware attack, data center security services also help you with real-time analysis and executing a rapid response plan.
The most common mode of delivery in malware attacks is via the internet. Hackers can easily infect your organization’s networks remotely with a few clicks if it’s left unprotected. A successful network breach can rapidly cripple your business processes and can cause millions of dollars in data loss.
Network Security is paramount to sufficiently strengthen your defenses against potential attacks. Implementing a robust network architecture can make or break your chances against a targeted cyberattack. Assessing your existing network security and loopholes and rectifying them with a state-of-the-art architecture is the first step in securing your organization’s network.
As SaaS offerings gain popularity, you will most likely find that your data and applications live in the Cloud. So naturally, this creates the need to secure your cloud environment with cutting-edge tools, technologies, and security best practices.
No matter your cloud provider, you need to periodically reassess your cloud architecture configuration, web application security, threat detection and response strategy, and real-time malware monitoring and removal procedures. Partnering with a Cloud Security Services provider can help you with a comprehensive, curated solution that creates an end-to-end, 24×7 safety net around your cloud environment.
Anti-Malware Remediation Tools
Although malware remediation kicks in after an attack has happened, malware defense is still part of the overall malware remediation strategy. Your organization’s cybersecurity infrastructure needs to be top-notch if you are to stand a chance against the sheer amount and complexity of today’s malware.
Network security, data center security, and cloud security together can ensure your organization’s major critical components are well-prepared against breach attempts. But cybersecurity also extends to training employees on security best practices to protect against social engineering attacks like phishing and baiting that often involve infecting devices and networks with malware.
With that covered, you should move on to implementing the best possible malware remediation tools available:
- Persistent Antivirus Scans: A fundamental tool towards achieving malware remediation is an antivirus that scans your systems to identify the presence of malware that has already infected your environment. Most industry-leading offerings today are capable of doing this.
- Malware Identification: The next step is to identify the kind of threat you’re facing. This is key to deciding the following course of action. Once your systems have identified the type of malware and the level of exposure it has gained in your systems, you can decide on a response strategy.
- Containment Strategy: It’s absolutely essential that you detect and identify the malware before it has spread to other devices and systems in your network. The sooner you can do this, the less extensive your investigation and containment strategies need to be. Depending on the success of your defenses, you might not have to power down certain systems entirely, and you could even recover lost files and data.
- Eradication Approach: The next step is to entirely remove the malware from your environment. This might involve a quarantine of the affected systems till the malware is removed or even shutting them down permanently.
- Recovery – Once you’ve successfully eradicated all traces of the infection from your systems, the final step is to recover the affected files or delete them if need be.
- Root cause analysis and review – Once immediate remediation and service delivery resumption have taken place, your organization needs to investigate the methods and circumstances pertaining to the attack thoroughly. This and a team-wide review of response procedures must occur to prevent recurrence and optimize future efforts.
You can partner with a managed security services provider (MSSP) to help leverage the benefits of an industry-leading suite of services and decades of expertise. You will be able to outsource the heavy lifting to the experts while you utilize your resources for other business-critical tasks.
Outsourcing also has the added benefits of always having the latest security patches installed on your systems and maintaining compliance with the relevant regulatory standards like HIPAA and PCI DSS throughout remediation efforts.
Regulatory Compliance – HIPAA and PCI DSS
HIPAA and PCI DSS are two of the most widely applicable regulatory standards organizations need to comply with. While HIPAA applies to organizations in the healthcare industry, including their partners, PCI DSS applies to any organization that accepts payments through credit and debit cards.
The HIPAA is the primary framework applicable to all entities operating in the healthcare industry that have access to protected health information (PHI). Organizations are mandated by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to ensure appropriate safeguards to secure this information’s storage and transmission.
HIPAA contains four major rules that outline the guidelines and standards organizations need to adhere to:
- Privacy Rule – This is the foundational rule classifying PHI as protected information. It contains a long list of permitted uses and disclosures of PHI, and what kinds of entities are covered under this rule.
- Security Rule – The second most important rule is the Security Rule that extends HIPAA’s ambit to electronic PHI (ePHI). It details the actual physical, technical, and administrative safeguards organizations need to implement to ensure the security of patient information.
- Breach Notification Rule – This rule establishes the conditions and requirements for reporting a security breach, if and when one happens. Organizations need to notify the impacted parties, the secretary of the HHS, and the local media in case more than 500 persons are affected by the breach.
- Enforcement Rule – The final rule details the penalties liable in case of HIPAA violations. The Office of Civil Rights is responsible for enforcing these civil money penalties on organizations found guilty of non-compliance. These penalties can range from $100 to $50,000 per violation.
Under the Security Rule, any instance of a successful malware attack that improperly discloses ePHI to cyberattackers constitutes a data breach. Under the Breach Notification Rule, these must be reported. However, anti-malware remediation tools can significantly assist with minimizing non-compliance penalties—or even preventing them, if you can prove that the attacker was unable to read or utilize the data in any way.
PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard)
The PCI DSS is the most widely accepted framework governing credit and debit card payments and is presided over by the Security Standards Council (SSC). It applies to all organizations accepting payments through credit and debit cards, as well as certain payment processing software.
The framework lays down six Goals and 12 Requirements that are further broken down into sub-requirements. There are heavy penalties for non-compliance, enforced by members of the SSC:
- $5K-$10K monthly for 1-3 months of non-compliance
- $25-$50K monthly for 4-6 months of non-compliance
- $50K-$100K monthly for 7+ months of non-compliance
- $50-$90 per customer who is impacted in a data breach
Anti-Malware Remediation Tools and Services for Peace of Mind
As a leading MSSP, RSI Security helps organizations manage the myriad complexities of implementing a robust cybersecurity infrastructure and tackling malware infections in the best possible way. With expert capabilities and up-to-threat threat intelligence, you can rest assured that malware will be remediated in the most rapid and efficient manner possible.
Contact RSI Security today to harness the benefits of the best anti-malware remediation tools available in the market.