While we often seek ways of keeping our personal and business data out of the reach of hackers and cybercriminals, there is still another form of cyber attack that most of us may have been ignorant of, called Cyberwarfare. Cyberwarfare is a situation where malware and harmful rootkit writers prepare and launch programs that tend to siphon desired information from a victimized computer. Such programs normally operate under the radar and take a long period of time before they can be detected. The worst is they may never affect the behaviors of the victimized pc which makes them one of the worst attacks in the cyber space.
Most cyberwarfare programs were written for non-profit aims and are reportedly used by governments to monitor the flow of certain information in another state or nation. But despite these, the people that feel the impact of such activities are still the business owners, entrepreneurs and big companies, either directly or indirectly which still puts you and me, and our little online activities at risk. You don’t have to work for FBI, LAPD or run a semi-military cantonment for your government to be a target of cyberwarfare. These malware programs are silent killers and one may even be doing its surveillance work on your pc as we speak.
Some Recently Discovered Cyberwarfare Malware
Flame – this is a cyberespionage malware which was unearthed by Kaspersky. Unfortunately, no anti-virus company has been able to completely decode it. The facts about what it truly does is yet to be understood and Kaspersky is saying it might take 10 years and a group of super talented people to completely go beyond so many subroutines, obfuscation and encryption that crystals this malware.
Gauss – yet-to-decipher malicious software. It was created with a warhead or a block of code with so many encryption that makes it almost impossible to decrypt.
Red October – malicious software created to target government diplomatic institutions, energy companies, military contractors and aerospace companies. Its operations are based on what is on the victimized pc and what the pc is used for. Armed with these details, it can then launch a dedicated malware module designed to accomplish a particular purpose or as many as required depending on what the pc contains. For instance, a module may just be responsible for stealing data from mobile phones while another module can retrieve deleted data from USB memory sticks.
Stuxnet – this is a virus which was reportedly created by the U.S and Israeli security agencies to spy and disrupt Iran’s nuclear operations. Whether this is the truth behind the Stuxnet virus is yet to be explicitly stated.
These are not the only ones roaming around the internet. But the truth remains that whatever they are created to accomplish, organizations and individuals are always the people to suffer the damage. As an example, in January 2010, there was a malware, Aurora, designed to target Google and other large IT companies which, reportedly, was believed to have originated from the Chinese government. While majority of cyberwarfare attacks target government agencies, the fact that the Aurora attack did not target the U.S government is a clear indication that there may be more to the functions of cyberwarfare viruses and malicious codes. The fact that some of them which have been discovered are yet to be deciphered should be a thing of concern even to the average internet surfer.
4 Ways to Protect Yourself from Cyberwarfare
1. Use the best protection packages
There are various anti-malware vendors out there. But I have to agree that most times we find it difficult to make a choice between them. You should be able to get reliable information on the current performance of all major anti-malware vendors from ‘The Virus Bulletin’. Once you’ve chosen online security software to go with, install it, customize its features, and ensure it is always active.
2. Use a firewall and a strong wireless security
The NAT firewall is still the strongest firewall for any home network. Make sure your router includes the NAT firewall, it will ensure the bridge between your network and the internet is protected. Also, on your wireless network, activate a strong wireless security like the WPA-PSK or WPA-PSK2. If you are using one of the modern anti-malware packages, you may even get the intrusion detection feature which will alert you during attack attempts.
3. Configure updates to run regularly and automatically
Most attacks rely on exploiting faults in old software versions. To this end, you must ensure that all the software in your system, especially your Operating System and every other utility that is at the core function of your pc is up-to-date. Most of these come with a feature with which they can be configured to run automatically; this will always keep your utilities up-to-date without you manually doing all the wok.
4. Use hard to guess passwords
I know how hard it can be to manage different passwords to different online platforms. But that is not a reason to use ‘password123’ as your master password. Your passwords must be hard to guess, contain alphabets (both capital and small letters), and then symbols and must be up to 10 digits.
In addition to these, you have to be cautions with links and email attachments. Get an internet security tool to help keep your online activities safer. Also, have a backup of all your delicate personal and financial data (everything on your pc). Just in case the unexpected happens, you don’t want to be crippled.