False Beliefs About File-less Attacks

JULY 4TH, 2018
When people hear the word “cyberattack,” generally a few of the more popular hacks will come to mind. Ransomware is all over the news these days with some of the most prominent attacks of the last couple years being ransomware attacks, like WannaCry. Trojans are also a virus staple that tech users, from basic to veteran levels, have heard about for years. One attack method hackers frequent that is less talked-about is termed the file-less attack. We’ve included an explanation of this hack in a past blog post, and the basics aren’t too hard to understand. As it states in its name, file-less attacks are essentially phishing scams or ad click bait in which the victim’s device is not breached by infected files. Instead, the user may be prompted to launch an application that then becomes encoded with a virus, giving a hacker the ability to insidiously infect the user’s machine. Because file-less attacks aren’t spoken about as frequently as some of the other more popular attacks, there are some myths many people seem to believe about them that aren’t in fact true. The following are some common beliefs people hold about file-less attacks that are false.

They’re New on the Scene

File-less attacks, though relatively unknown to many, have been around for a long time – the first incidents can be traced back to the early 2000’s. Why, then, are they being used more frequently now? As AI and machine learning continue to develop, antivirus software companies are leveraging these technologies to advance their file-scanning abilities. The result? Hackers have begun utilizing older techniques without files to trick antivirus software that works on file-scanning. According to a 2017 survey conducted by Barkly and the Ponem Institute, almost 30 percent of attacks in 2017 were file-less, and that number is predicted to grow to 35 per cent by the end of 2018, so it looks like their popularity will only continue to grow.

They Never Include Files

Contrary to their name and popular belief, there are occasions in which file-less attacks do involve files. For example, a phishing email may be sent to a victim with an attached Word document. Once the document is opened, it can trigger an embedded script to contaminate a legitimate framework found in the application – Word in this instance – giving the hacker the ability to infect memory or code in the device without actually installing a virus in any files. Though the majority of the attack is file-less, it initially began with the opening of a word document.

They Can’t Be Protected Against

Though it’s true that file-less attacks are a bit trickier for most antivirus software to detect, some endpoint solutions available today have been designed to monitor device activity instead of merely scanning files. Since one-third of all the attacks in 2018 are meant to include file-less methods, it’s worth it to prepare for them before they happen. StorageCraft offers a full backup and recovery solution for your data, so you can have peace of mind that if your business is breached, all your essential data is waiting for you to access, safe and sound. Contact us today to learn more and try StorageCraft® Shadow Protect™ for free.