Healthcare Compliance & HIPAA Resources

 

Healthcare Compliance & HIPAA Resources

 

Malware

June 2022

As the need and dependency of people and businesses on computers, mobile gadgets, electronic data, and a variety of programs and applications consistently rise, so does cybercrime and the use of malware.

According to the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), "Malware, short for "malicious software," includes any software (such as a virus, Trojan, or spyware) that is installed on your computer or mobile device. The software is then used, usually covertly, to compromise the integrity of your device. Most commonly, malware is designed to give attackers access to your infected computer. That access may allow others to monitor and control your online activity or steal your personal information or other sensitive data."

Here is a list of known Malware threats and what we need to know about them:

MALWARE WHAT IT IS WHAT IT DOES
Virus
  • A type of malware that self-replicates by inserting a code into the computer programs. It attaches to legitimate files and programs and can be distributed via infected websites, flash drives, and others.
  • Can delete files, disable computer system/functions, or modify applications.
Adware
  • Software that downloads or displays persistent ads. It may also redirect you to advertising websites.
  • This is usually installed with the user’s knowledge and consent. Hidden in “Terms of Service” to which users then “Agree” to.
  • Tracks user location and browser history.
  • Redirects search results.
  • May display pop-ups that cannot be closed.
  • May have surreptitious links that direct to more nefarious types of malware such as Spywares.
Ransomware
  • This malware encrypts files locking them from the victims, and may decrypt said files once a ransom is paid.
  • Note that cybercriminals may not always keep their end of the bargain, even after the victim pays the ransom.
  • It can extend and exploit system and network vulnerabilities.
  • Usually distributed using email campaigns or through targeted attacks.
  • Encrypts Personal Identifiable Information (PII).
  • Other ransomware locks out access to the infected computer.
  • Blackmails recipient.
  • Usually demands “ransom” payment by way of cryptocurrency.
Trojan
  • Programs that hide in plain sight posing as legitimate software. Once downloaded, it enables computer access to cybercriminals who then carry out malicious activities.
  • Gives remote access to hackers, enabling them to steal data, and spy on users.
Worms
  • Infect systems by weaving their way from one infected machine and continue to other subsequent machines through a network.
  • Steals and/or deletes files
Rootkits
  • Referred to as the most dangerous among malware types.
  • A collection of computer software that enables remote access to the user’s computer.
  • It usually contains several types of malware in itself such as password stealers, antivirus disablers, bots, keyloggers, and others.
  • Can be both difficult to find/identify, and difficult to remove in an infected device.
  • Can give complete computer access to cybercriminals.
  • Hackers can disable security software on infected devices.
Spyware
  • Unscrupulously hides in the background of a computer and "spies" on what a user is doing. It collects information without the user knowing. Information includes bank accounts, credit card details, login credentials, etc.
  • Can modify your computer’s security settings with the user’s knowledge.
  • Collects your data and sells it to cybercriminals.
Keyloggers
  • As the name implies this hardware/software keeps a record of every key pressed. Other keylogger tools are meant for legitimate purposes such as providing feedback for software development. However, cybercriminals may misuse this tool for their unlawful activities.
  • Can create records of whatever information a user types on the keyboard of a computer or mobile device.
  • It may also record other information such as text messages, calls, GPS data, audio and video files.
Bots
  • Programs that carry out specific commands or operations on a user’s computer without the latter’s consent or knowledge.
  • Gives remote access to hackers, enabling them to steal data, spy on users, distribute spam, and/or attack computer networks.
Scareware
  • Generates pop-ups that pretend to come from anti-virus software, firewall applications, or registry cleaners. The pop-ups message usually shows numerous problems that have been found in the user's computer.
  • Users are tricked into purchasing "software" to fix a variety of computer issues. The "software" may in actuality be "malware."

Notice: Most malware is sophisticated and discreet in that it purposefully does not leave signs and would initially keep your computer operating normally so that it can introduce and proceed to infect your device and/or gather sensitive data.

There are telltale signs that your computer may be infected with malware, these includes:

  1. Computer is noticeably slow and/or crashes.

    Computer crash is a term used to describe when an operating system or a software application abruptly stops functioning and then exits.

  2. Random computer programs running in the background.
  3. Displays repetitious error messages.
  4. Subtle appearance changes on your browser homepage.
  5. Pop-up ads occurring more frequently and persistently.
  6. Computer operating systems such as Windows may not open at all.
  7. Inability to connect to the internet.
  8. Inability to access higher-level system control functions.
  9. A laptop or mobile device battery that quickly drains.

The ultimate goal in Malware awareness is to PREVENT infection, rather than DISCOVER it.

If you are a cybercrime victim, the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) specified the following government organizations to file a complaint or a report to:

  • Report computer or network vulnerabilities to US-CERT.
    Call or access website: 1-888-282-0870 or www.us-cert.gov.
  • File a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C),
    Access website: www.IC3.gov.
  • If you think your computer or mobile device has been infected with malware, report it to the Federal Trade Commission
    Access website: www.ftc.gov/complaint.
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