What is Malware Intelligence?
Malware intelligence is a type of threat intelligence that focuses on identifying, detecting, and understanding cyber adversaries, the malicious software tools they use in cyber attacks (known as malware), and the tools, techniques, and procedures they use to infiltrate secure networks and steal data.
Like other forms of threat intelligence, malware intelligence must be relevant, accurate, and complete, providing actionable recommendations that can help enterprise security teams prevent an anticipated malware attack or strengthen their organization’s security posture against future attacks.
What is Malware?
The term “malware” is a portmanteau of the words “malicious” and “software”. In cybersecurity, malware refers to any kind of malicious software application, code, or script used by digital adversaries to exploit security vulnerabilities, gain unauthorized access to secure networks, or damage the target’s operations.
Examples of malware include viruses, worms, spyware, adware, ransomware, scareware, trojans, rootkits, backdoors, keyloggers, and cryptojacking tools.
How Does Malware Intelligence Work?
Malware intelligence works by collecting and analyzing data from both public and private sources to:
- Identify cyber adversaries engaged in malware attacks,
- Understand cyber adversary motivations and the malicious programs they intend to use,
- Recognize the tools, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) used by cyber adversaries to infect targets with malicious software,
- Anticipate malware attacks by proactively detecting fraudulent infrastructure (e.g. fake social media accounts, spoofed domains, etc.) used to deliver malware to targets.
Threat intelligence platforms like ZeroFOX combine AI-driven monitoring of the public attack surface with covert intelligence sources and human expert analysis to zero in on cyber adversaries and emerging malware threats that pose a risk to your business.
Why is Malware Intelligence Important?
Malware intelligence is a core capability of any worthwhile threat intelligence platform. Here’s why malware intelligence should be considered an important part of your overall approach to cybersecurity:
Malware is Ultra Versatile
The versatility and scale of malware programs leveraged by cyber adversaries against their targets is nothing short of astonishing.
Data from 2021 indicates that 560,000 new pieces of malware are detected everyday, and that more than one billion different malicious software programs have been detected by the combined efforts of cybersecurity professionals around the world.
The massive scale of malware around the world makes it impossible for security teams to secure their networks against every kind of potential attack without a malware intelligence program that provides insight into upcoming attacks and supports strategic decision-making and prioritization.
Malware Attacks Exploit Every Attack Vector
The extreme versatility of malicious software programs is mirrored by the many ways that digital adversaries can exploit various attack vectors to launch malware attacks against their targets:
- Email – Email is the most common attack vector exploited by cyber attackers in malware attacks. Malicious programs or scripts can be attached to email correspondence, along with fraudulent messages that leverage social engineering techniques to encourage recipients to open the attachment.
- Malicious Domains – Cyber adversaries can set up a domain that automatically downloads malware to each visitor’s machine. Once a malicious domain is configured and deployed, cyber adversaries can generate a disguised link to the domain and distribute it to potential victims via digital forums, email, social media, business collaboration tools, and other channels.
- Social Media – Cyber adversaries can create spoofed domains that resemble popular social media websites and trick their victims into disclosing their credentials or downloading malware. Hackers have also created programs that hijack social media accounts and exploit the victim’s social network to further the spread of malware.
- Business Collaboration Tools – Business collaboration tools provide a platform for trusted communication between colleagues. Cyber adversaries can gain access to these tools through various nefarious techniques before using them to distribute malicious programs to unsuspecting victims within an organization.
- Software Vulnerabilities – Cyber adversaries can exploit certain types of software vulnerabilities to inject malicious code or scripts directly into a target application or server.
The diversity of delivery mechanisms for malicious programs means that enterprise security teams must carefully monitor all of the most important attack vectors to successfully detect, prevent, and mitigate malware-based cyber attacks.
Malware Attacks Do Real Damage
A successful malware attack against your organization has the potential to cause massive financial losses.
In the early 2000s, viruses were the biggest threat and infamous malware programs like Klez (2001), Sobig (2003), Mydoom (2004), and ILOVEYOU (2009) spread to millions of PCs via email, causing service interruptions to major companies and costing billions to remediate.
Ransomware attacks are now a major threat against enterprise organizations, with over 4,000 attacks reported every day in the United States since 2016.
Also since 2016:
- Average ransomware payments have increased from less than $100,000 to more than $300,000,
- The highest ever ransomware demand grew from $15 million to $70 million, and
- A ransom of $40 million – the largest ever – was paid to cyber adversaries by US insurance company CNA.
With ransomware attacks on a rapid rise and cyber criminals growing greedy for large ransoms, it’s more important than ever for enterprises to stay apprised of existing and emerging ransomware threats with malware intelligence.
Secure Your Organization with ZeroFOX Malware Intelligence
ZeroFOX provides protection, intelligence, and disruption to dismantle malware-based threats to brands, people, assets, and data across the public attack surface in one, comprehensive platform.
The ZeroFOX platform combines advanced AI and expert human intelligence services to develop relevant, accurate, and timely malware intelligence.
Once a malware threat is validated, our integrated adversary disruption and takedown service leverages industry partnerships and AI-driven automation to disrupt cyber attacker infrastructure and discourage future attacks.
Ready to learn more?
Read our free report Rising Ransom: Ransomware and Malware Trends to discover how the landscape of malware threats is evolving and how you can protect your organization.
Or, download our infographic Ransomware Trends & Mitigating Risk to learn more about the costs and impacts of ransomware attacks.