One of the central pillars of cyberdefense is preventing malicious code from entering your IT environment. With malware anywhere on your hardware or software, cybercriminals can steal, delete, or otherwise compromise your assets. But how does malicious code work in practice? In other words, what is a possible effect of malicious code?
Effects, Indicators, and Implications of Malicious Code
Broadly speaking, malicious code is code that produces harmful effects. More specifically, it can be whole programs or smaller snippets within them that are designed to produce these effects.
To understand the full scope of the impact, you’ll need to answer the following questions:
- What is a possible effect of malicious code?
- What is a possible indication of a malicious code attack?
- What are the security implications of malicious code?
Understanding malicious code is a core capacity of cybersecurity awareness, and questions like these are built into staff training programs for regulatory compliance and other purposes.
What is a Possible Effect of Malicious Code?
Malicious code is an extremely broad category; many effects are within the realm of possibility. However, when it comes to security awareness training, there are three primary and direct impacts of malicious code that you and your staff need to be aware of:
- File corruption – Malicious code can make inappropriate changes to files without being noticed. Inaccuracies in financial or other sensitive data can then lead to theft or fraud.
- Data erasure – Malicious code can also be written to erase files and other assets, removing necessary information such as critical legal documentation or evidence.
- Hacker access – Malicious code can bypass access limitations, giving hackers and other cybercriminals access to sensitive environments and all of the data within them.
Taken together, these effects put sensitive information and systems at risk. But, to rephrase the question: how can malicious code cause damage to your organization?
Poor data security can harm your staff, clients, and partners, in turn causing reputational harm for you. It can also lead to regulatory compliance issues, causing a loss of business alongside monetary, criminal, and other penalties.
What is a Possible Indication of a Malicious Code Attack?
Minimizing possible damage from malicious code attacks requires identifying them as swiftly as possible. To that effect, your staff needs to be educated on the biggest indicators of an attack.
Here are some tell-tale signs of malicious code attacks to monitor for:
- Unexpected file additions, deletions, or changes
- Pop-up windows and advertisements
- Issues with account credentials and access
- Slow or buggy performance on a piece of hardware
- Laggy performance or disconnection in browsers
Broadly speaking, malicious code attacks indicate themselves through the direct impacts noted above. You should constantly scan for any new or unaccounted-for files and traffic across your networks. Approaches like Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) involve individuals or programs continuously monitoring for suspicious activity.
Your staff should also be empowered to report these red flags to IT or other responsible parties.
The best way to ensure that awareness is through training, backed by sound policy implementation. A security program advisor can help with both.
What Are the Security Implications of Malicious Code?
Preventing malicious code and its effects should be one of the top priorities across all of your IT and security systems. You need to ensure that emails and files entering your network are secure and that any potentially unsafe code is detected and dealt with immediately.
The other major factor to consider is regulatory compliance.
If your organization works closely with US government agencies, you’re likely subject to multiple regulations. One of the most robust is Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC), which is required for Defense Industrial Base (DIB) entities that work with the US Military.
Levels 1, 2, and 3 of the CMMC all require rigorous cyberdefense controls to prevent, monitor for, identify, and eliminate malicious code. You’ll also need to implement controls for assessing risk, training staff, and controlling access, among other areas of defense, to remain compliant.
If your organization requires CMMC or NIST Certification, working with a DoD compliance advisor will help you prepare for upcoming assessments.
Protect Your Organization from Malicious Code Attacks
To return to our question from above, what is a possible effect of malicious code? Malicious code can corrupt your files, erase your data, and give hackers access to your system. These are all outcomes you want to avoid, and one way to do so is by scanning for common indicators like strange filenames or unfamiliar events in your IT environment.
The implications of malicious code for cybersecurity are ultimately endless. You need to build up defenses that prevent and mitigate malicious code, both for your company’s safety and for any compliance regulations that apply to you. RSI Security will help you rethink and optimize your defenses—against malicious code and all other cyber threats.
To learn more about how we will help, get in touch today!