What is infostealer malware, and how can security teams protect against it?
Of late, during my dark web research, I have seen a notable increase in discussions and utilization of infostealer malware. This uncomfortable surge can undoubtedly be attributed to the infostealers capability to extract a wealth of victim data with relative ease, including but not limited to cookie data, usernames, and passwords, and its worryingly low cost.
A key factor contributing to the popularity of infostealers is their affordability and widespread availability as a “malware-as-a-service” (MaaS) offering. This service model has lowered the entry barrier for cybercriminal activities, enabling individuals with limited resources or technical expertise to easily deploy this malware.
Also known as information-stealing malware, this is a type of malicious software designed to collect sensitive information from an infected system. This includes personal data like usernames, passwords, credit card details, browsing history, and other confidential information. Once collected, this data is typically sent back to cybercriminals, who can use it for various malicious purposes, such as identity theft, financial fraud, or selling the information on the dark web. Infostealers can infect systems through various means, including email attachments, compromised websites, or as part of other malware packages.
Total malware attacks increased to 5.5 billion in 2022, with 53% of security professionals expressing extreme concern about future attacks related to authentication, identity, session, and data exfiltration from malware-infected devices. [Statistica]
As a result, they can gain unauthorized access to networks and sensitive information with minimal effort. The ease of use, coupled with the potential to reap significant illicit gains, has positioned infostealers as a prominent threat available to the latest generation of bad actors.
Combatting Inforstealer Malware
Protecting against infostealers and malware requires both a comprehensive and proactive approach, focusing on both prevention and rapid response. A key element in this strategy is deploying a cybersecurity platform specializing in real-time behavioral analytics and machine learning. This type of platform monitors applications and network activities, swiftly identifying any unusual behavior patterns that could indicate the presence of any malware, ransomware, or zero-day attacks.
By utilizing advanced microsegmentation zero trust techniques, this isolates network segments and restricts access, effectively reducing the attack surface and preventing the lateral movement techniques of any intrusion within the network. Furthermore, its ability to enforce strict access controls and continuously monitor for anomalies ensures that any suspicious activities are quickly detected and addressed. In the event of a breach, the platform’s forensic capabilities aid in determining the extent and source of the attack, enabling a more informed and effective response. This holistic approach to cybersecurity helps mitigate the risk of infostealer malware and strengthens the overall security posture against a wide range of cyber threats.
Organizations can also protect against information-stealing malware through these additional measures:
- Use Strong Antivirus and Anti-Malware Software: Implement robust antivirus solutions that offer real-time protection and regular updates.
- Employee Training and Awareness: Educate employees about cybersecurity best practices, including recognizing phishing attempts and suspicious links or attachments.
- Regular Updates and Patch Management: Keep all systems, software, and applications up-to-date with the latest security patches.
- Implement Network Security Measures: Use firewalls, intrusion detection systems, zero trust practices, lateral movement protection, and secure Wi-Fi networks.
- Data Encryption: Encrypt sensitive data, both at rest and in transit.
- Access Control: Limit access to sensitive information and implement strong authentication methods.
- Regular Backups: Maintain regular backups of critical data to minimize damage in case of a breach.
- Monitor Network Activity: Continuously monitor network activity for unusual behavior that could indicate a malware infection.
- Incident Response Plan: Have a robust incident response plan to address any security breaches and quickly protect business continuity.
The Prevalence of Infostealers
These sophisticated infostealer malware tools, easily accessible on the dark web for the price of an artisanal cake and skinny latte, underscore the need for robust and proactive defense strategies. Implementing advanced cybersecurity platforms with real-time analytics and microsegmentation alongside foundational security practices like regular software updates, employee training, and network monitoring is crucial. By adopting a comprehensive approach that combines technological solutions with vigilant practices, organizations can effectively guard against the ever-evolving threat of infostealer malware, ensuring the security and integrity of their valuable data and networks.