Malware and Countermeasures

Stephanie Peppers: in Charlotte, NC

July 28, 2015 Yahoo fell victim to a flash based malware attack which lasted seven days. Animated ads use Adobe Flash to make the ads more attractive to viewers.  The attackers bought ads on Yahoo’s Sports section, as well as the News and Financial Section and inserted them with malicious code using Adobe Flash. When a user visited the website with the infected ad, the malware was downloaded onto the user’s computer. The malware searched for out-of-date Adobe flash and used the software to take control of the computer.

Not all “malvertising” attacks require ransom, this particular attack was dangerous because it locked the files and required the user to pay ransom to get their access back. It also requires the user to do nothing except view the page where the infected ad is placed.

The privacy and security implications of malware attacks can vary from having the ability to steal data, like passwords, from your computer and browsers, to locking files on your computer, like this Yahoo attack did, leaving users with no access to their computer files.

Countermeasures to use to protect yourself from these types of malware attacks would be to always make sure all of your software is up-to-date. Attacks like this one search for out-of-date software to use, by making sure the software is up to date, the software can’t be compromised. Another measure to take would be to use Ad-blockers on your browsers. This will stop ads from popping up on the browser without your permission, thereby preventing the malware to be allowed to download onto your computer. According to our reading this week, Common OS Security, Organizations rely on proactive and reactive measures to secure network assets. These include applying vendor patches and updates in a timely fashion, utilizing network security mechanisms such as firewalls, and system configuration and hardening (Laureate Education, Inc., (2012)).  In other words, security measures need to be taken on the entire network and not only on the problem being addressed at that particular time.

Fox News. (2017). Hackers exploit Flash in one of the largest malware attacks in recent history. [online] Available at: http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2015/08/04/hackers-exploit-flash-in-one-largest-malware-attacks-in-recent-history.html [Accessed 15 Nov. 2017].

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2012). Commo n OS security. Baltimore, MD: Author.

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