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What are polymorphic attacks and how can you defend against them?

polymorphic attacks

Polymorphic attacks have evolved from a seldom-used tactic to become a standard practice by cybercriminals. Their ability to change and morph means they can infiltrate your network virtually undetected, wreaking havoc on your systems.

While these attacks are commonplace today, it’s important that you understand how they work so you can equip your systems to detect and defend against them effectively.

What is polymorphic malware?

Polymorphic malware is a specific type of malware that can change properties and evolve to try to avoid detection. This includes viruses, worms, bots, trojans or keyloggers that actively change their identifiable characteristics to render it undetectable using standard detection techniques.

The scary part about these attacks is that the malware will continue to spread and infect devices even when it’s characteristics, like file names and types of encryption keys, change. Antivirus solutions may not immediately recognize new file names as malicious, and by the time they’re added to the database, the malware might have already changed.

The complexity and continuous evolution of these attacks can spell disaster for your business. Learn how and steps you can take to protect your network.

How can polymorphic attacks affect your business?

These threats sound scary and they should be addressed in your security plan. The truth is that nearly all malware attacks carry polymorphic capabilities, where some aspects can evolve and change, making your traditional antivirus virtually ineffective at identifying and protecting your networks.

If you are relying only on antivirus or firewalls to protect your business, you are risking exposure every single day. Every second malware infects your devices undetected you are risking the privacy of you, your employees’, your customers’ and your vendors’ personal information. We all know how costly it can be if your business is exposed. That’s why you should take a multi-tiered approach to protect your business immediately.

How should you defend against these types of attacks?

These types of attacks are sophisticated, and they require a layered approach to detection and prevention that combines people, processes and technology. Here are a few ways you can protect your business against polymorphic malware:

  • Update software regularly
  • The most obvious way to help prevent a malware attack of any kind is to keep all applications and software tools up-to-date. Major software manufacturers regularly deploy software updates that include critical security patches for vulnerabilities that are exposed. Using outdated software opens your company to a variety of malware infections.

  • Update software regularly
  • Just like preventing other types of malware from infiltrating your systems, you need to educate your employees on ways malware can gain access to your systems, mainly from email attachments or malicious links. The key takeaway is to not open or click on anything if it’s not from a trusted source.

  • Update software regularly
  • You should make it a common practice to secure your accounts by using secure and unique passwords that will make it difficult for malware to infect. Use multi-factor authentication and secure password managers when necessary.

  • Take advantage of behavior-based detection tools
  • Polymorphic attacks are designed to evade detection and the best solution is to use advanced techniques like advanced threat protection that can pinpoint threats in real-time before any information is compromised.

Key takeaway: using antivirus is no longer an effective way to protect your business

Behavior-based malware protection, along with standard malware prevention techniques are the best way to ensure that your company’s data is safe and secure. These practices are more accurate than conventional signature-based methods like antivirus to safeguard your most important data.

The security professionals and industry experts at Level4 IT can help you implement practices that will protect you from polymorphic attacks. Don’t let this malware infect your business, costing you time, money and even putting the future of your company at risk. Let us find viable, practical solutions to keep up with the evolving landscape.