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3 min read

What is zero-click malware? How do you fight It?

It shouldn’t be news by now that cybersecurity threats continue to evolve. It’s something that we talk about on a very regular basis, heck it’s a large part of the reason why we exist! One such threat gaining prominence is zero-click malware. This insidious form of malware requires no user interaction. It can silently compromise devices and networks.

One example of this type of attack happened due to a missed call. That’s right, the victim didn’t even have to answer. This infamous WhatsApp breach occurred in 2019, and a zero-day exploit enabled it. The missed call triggered a spyware injection into a resource in the device’s software.

A more recent threat is a new zero-click hack targeting iOS users. This attack initiates when the user receives a message via iMessage. They don’t even need to interact with the message of the malicious code to execute. That code allows a total device takeover.

Below, we will delve into what zero-click malware is. We’ll also explore effective strategies to combat this growing menace.

Understanding Zero-Click Malware

Zero-click malware refers to malicious software that can do a specific thing. It can exploit vulnerabilities in an app or system with no interaction from the user. It is unlike traditional malware that requires users to click on a link or download a file.

Zero-click malware operates in the background, often unbeknownst to the victim. It can infiltrate devices through various attack vectors. These include malicious websites, compromised networks, or even legitimate applications with security loopholes.

The Dangers of Zero-Click Malware

Zero-click malware presents a significant threat. This is due to its stealthy nature and ability to bypass security measures. Once it infects a device, it can execute a range of malicious activities.

These include:

  • Data theft
  • Remote control
  • Cryptocurrency mining
  • Spyware
  • Ransomware
  • Turning devices into botnets for launching attacks

This type of malware can affect individuals, businesses, and even critical infrastructure. Attacks can lead to financial losses, data breaches, and reputational damage.

Fighting Zero-Click Malware

As we’ve said, zero-click malware is very difficult to defend against. It usually exploits brand-new software weaknesses that haven’t yet been identified by security firms around the world. Patches haven’t yet been developed and given its very nature, training to not click links etc is rather ineffective.

That said, you can try your best to stay ahead by adopting best practice and always making sure that you have appropriate protection and that your devices are up to date. You need a proactive and multi-layered approach to cybersecurity. Here are some essential strategies to consider:

Keep Software Up to Date

Regularly update software, including operating systems, applications, and security patches. This is vital in preventing zero-click malware attacks. Software updates often contain bug fixes and security enhancements. These things address vulnerabilities targeted by malware developers. Enabling automatic updates can streamline this process and ensure devices remain protected. this is the single most important action that you can take.

Put in Place Robust Endpoint Protection

Deploying comprehensive endpoint protection solutions can help detect and block zero-click malware as soon as they have been identified by security firms. These solutions should be regularly updated and although they can’t provide perfect protection, they will lessen your risk of becoming a victim of emerging malware variants.

Use Network Segmentation

Segment networks into distinct zones. Base these on user roles, device types, or sensitivity levels. This adds an extra layer of protection against zero-click malware. Isolate critical systems and install strict access controls to limit the damage. These help to mitigate the lateral movement of malware and its potential harm.

Uninstall Unneeded Applications

The more applications on a device, the more vulnerabilities it has. Many users download apps then rarely use them. Yet they remain on their device, vulnerable to an attack. They are also more likely to lack updates.

Have employees or your IT team remove unneeded apps on all company devices. This will reduce the potential vulnerabilities to your network.

Only Download Apps from Official App Stores

Be careful where you download apps. You should only download from official app stores. Even when you do, check the reviews and comments. Malicious apps can sometimes slip through the security controls before they’re discovered.

Educate Users

Although we’ve said that there is very little people can do to stop a zero-click malware you can train them to spot signs of an infection.

Educating users about the risks of zero-click malware means that they can spot signs that something isn’t right and can report it quickly. This is crucial. Ensure that staff are on the lookout for:

  • Their device running more slowly than usual
  • The fan running more often
  • Any unusual behaviour in the device or any aspect of their IT

Use Behavioural Analytics and AI

One of the best defences against zero-click malware is advanced AI-based intrusion detection systems. These systems monitor all traffic across your network and use AI and behavioural analytics to spot any activity that is outside of your normal operations. They quickly flag it for attention and can spot if a hacker has made it into your network using an undiscovered exploit. If you are interested in taking advantage of this advanced protection then get in touch.

Get the Technology Facts from a Trusted Pro

Zero-click malware continues to evolve and pose severe threats to individuals and organisations. It is crucial to remain vigilant and take proactive steps to combat this menace. Need help with a layered security solution? Speak to us today.

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

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