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Time, Costs and Solutions for Malware Attacks and APTs

  Greg LaBrie     Apr 28, 2016

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As malware continues to evolve at lightning speed, it’s getting more and more difficult to prevent and identify its existence. A computer attack from the APT virus is both insidious and crippling for enterprises. Its lifecycle, if well-masked, can do some real damage in just 12 months. An Advanced Persistent Threat attack on a bank revealed that it’s a methodical attack. Here’s how it unfolded. Seasoned cybercriminals mined the bank’s social media platforms and website to identify its hosts and senior personnel. Stolen data was then used to launch phishing email campaigns and launched malware on the bank’s executives’ laptops. Undetected by antivirus software, the attack expanded throughout the business. All of this took just three months. Over the next several months, the malware had injected a code into all of the infected systems. Slowly, it stole passwords, security policies and network diagrams. The organized crime ring used this data for a more offensive attack across the company’s network. The last two months of the malware attack entailed downloading the bank card information of more than 50 million bank customers.

Ponemon Institute took a survey of companies attacked by an APT virus, and the results were disheartening. Respondents to the survey revealed that it took about 225 days for the IT department to detect the attack and 76 percent had their anti-malware software invaded. It’s obvious that you can’t fight software with software. The Ponemon Institute has also zeroed in how much it costs enterprises in the wake of a malware attack. That figure is a whopping $9.4 million. These attacks target high value assets. Additional costs include business interruption, revenue loss and the cost of IT support for recovery.

To help businesses defend themselves against these types of malware attacks, Intel has created hardware-enhanced security technologies. This IT solutions provider has taken an innovative approach to keep companies safe. Its technologies are embedded in the platform’s hardware. It’s a strategy that enhances protection by pushing security down into the lower level computing stack. Hardware security technologies from Intel include, Device Protection with Boot Guard, Device Protection with BIOS Guard, Device Protection with OS Guard and Device Protection with Trusted Execution Technology (TXT).

Intel Device Protection with Boot Guard helps verify that an authorized operating system and firmware are the only ones running. This blocks the malware. Today’s malware digs deeper into the system’s platform, including the BIOS. The news headlines are always popping up with targeted attacks on ATMs and point of sales (POS) terminals. Keep in mind that the BIOS is an invisible space to antivirus software. The Intel Device Protection with BIOS Guard blocks the attempt to invade with the manufacturer’s authorization. It’s ideal for enterprises who want to protect proprietary data.

The Intel Device Protection with OS Guard wards companies against privilege escalation attacks. These types of attacks infect applications in use mode and exploit the operating system. Intel is the IT solutions provider that give enterprises control over their operating systems and not the malware. More and more, companies are transitioning its data to the cloud. This transition exposes businesses to malware attacks with more surface area to attack. In the cloud ecosystem, it’s a real challenge to protect data from attack without new tools. Intel gives companies that tool with its TXT technology. Secure compute pools are built by TXT to verify the integrity of servers, operating systems, BIOS and firmware. It can identify which platforms in the virtual pool and have failed or passed security verification by TXT.

McAfee is another IT solutions provider that offers a collection of technologies designed to compensate for the failure of anti-malware software. Its technologies can be integrated with Intel technologies for even more protection from advanced malware threats. McAfee offers a number of solutions, such as its Network Security Platform, Web Gateway, Host Intrusion Prevention for Server, Advanced Threat Defense and McAfee ePO. The McAfee Web Gateway analyzes the intent of code and content and immediately identifies hidden threats. The McAfee Advanced Threat Defense stops stealth attacks in its tracks and quarantines the host. Combining Intel and McAfee solutions is a holistic approach that ramps up security.

Without a doubt, APTs and other sophisticated malware threats will continue to put enterprises at risk. Intel and its partners innovative approach are a game changers. With both hardware-enhanced security technologies and revolutionary anti-malware software, those cybercriminals will be on the run.

Get ahead of an APT threat with our free Security and Threat Prevention Assessment.

Tags  hardware-enhanced security malware Intel IT Security APT

Greg LaBrie

Written by Greg LaBrie

Greg LaBrie has more than 20 years of network architecture and engineering experience designing networks that exceed technical requirements, improve operational proficiency and reduce total costs of ownership. Greg holds a number of technical certifications for HPE, Cisco, Fortinet, and much more.

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