Malware-as-a-Service: Who Can Put an End to It?
Anyone can become a hacker. No advanced computer skills needed.
Yes, it’s true if not pretty terrifying. Anyone, from your business competitor who isn’t too fond of you, to the neighbor you didn’t invite to that BBQ party last summer. But how come?
If you haven’t heard about Malware-as-a-Service (MaaS), then this post is worth reading. Oh, and don’t worry – there’s plenty of actions you can take to prevent this from happening.
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By reading on, you will find out answers to questions including:
- What is MaaS?
- How does it impact regular internet users?
- What are the ways to stop it?
- How can you best protect yourself?
What is Malware as a Service?
You might have heard about Software-as-a-Service. This is when you can ‘rent’ an application via the internet. You don’t need to install it on your computer, so all the maintenance headache is on the provider, not you. Slack and Dropbox are examples of SaaS.
Malware-as-a-Service, or MaaS, is a criminal version of SaaS – a type of organized cybercrime. But instead of offering legitimate services, MaaS enterprises rent malware to their customers on a subscription basis. Thus, anyone – regardless of their technical skills – can launch a cyberattack using the ready-made codes provided. They are even regularly updated just like legitimate software.
“Subscription? Monthly fee? Updates? Seems alright. Is malware still illegal?”, you might ask. Yes, it is. But what’s worse, it’s now accessible to anyone who can pay for it. So, what does it mean for you and cybersecurity as a whole?
How does the rise of MaaS impact cybersec?
The growth of malware business has triggered the rapid development of botnets. A botnet is a network of infected computers. Similar to zombies, they mindlessly follow orders from the crook’s server. An army of bots can be used for storing illegal materials, running a side business, sending millions of spam emails, cracking servers, or crypto-mining.
But the creepiest thing is how the infected computers owners are usually unsuspecting users. That’s why even if the authorities manage to detect separate bots, they will have a hard time finding the real criminal controlling the entire army.
Some would say botnets are nothing new, and have in fact been around for decades. This is true, but the main problem is how they have considerably evolved over recent years. Back then, a hacker had to write a botnet from scratch to execute a crime. Now, in a MaaS framework, everyone can lease a ready-made botnet and use it for their benefit. Some botnets can reach incredible sizes, making them even more dangerous and elusive.
However, though security experts seem helpless in the face of these issues, there is a way out – by following the example of cybercriminals. No, it’s not what you think. What we mean is through joining efforts.
Security teams would be more effective if they combined their efforts and resources when attacking cybercriminals. But sadly, they are reluctant to do so since they’d prefer to avoid sharing their technologies and secret tactics with competitors.
We’ll all be waiting for this tendency to change someday in the future.
What you can do to protect yourself from MaaS
Okay, with the explosion of MaaS, cybersecurity is going through rough times – that’s clear. But does it mean anything to you? Yes, it does.
As committing a cybercrime has become easier than assembling an IKEA coffee table, the internet is becoming more dangerous than ever before.
Malware is no longer purely a desktop threat - so make sure you have reliable antivirus software for mobile phones as well. You can protect yourself following similar steps you’d take to ward off the coronavirus – stay calm and be more vigilant.
Instead of keeping your distance and wearing a face mask, here’s how you can protect yourself from MaaS:
- Don’t click on pop-up ads when surfing the web.
- Avoid clicking on suspicious links, opening shady attachments, or downloading unknown files.
- Be extremely cautious with phishing emails. Cybercriminals often disguise them to look like something legitimate.
- If you are a mobile user, avoid downloading apps from sources other than Google Play or the App Store.
- Keep your system up-to-date.
- Avoid generic passwords. With the help of automation tools, hackers can crack them. But don't worry, we’ve got a couple of creative password ideas for you.
- Download a robust antivirus, like Clario’s all-in-one cybersecurity software with anti-phishing and anti-malware protection.
What to do if your device is already infected?
It’s critical to ‘listen’ to your device. For instance, if your computer starts slowing down for no reason, pop-up ads seem to appear out of nowhere, or you suddenly run out of space on your hard drive, your device is probably infected. But remember, the procedure of removing the virus from the iPhone is a bit different from 'disinfecting' your Mac or a PC.
No matter the case, this is how you typically remove malware from a computer:
- Take your computer off the network to prevent malware from spreading.
- If you still don’t have a legitimate anti-malware program, install it and scan your device.
- Repeat the procedure with all devices in your network to make sure they are clean.
- Change passwords to all your online accounts and services.
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Gone are the days when a cybercriminal needed to have a strong technical background to implement an evil hack. Today, the Malware-as-a-Service model can turn anyone into a cybercriminal. But this doesn’t mean you should completely avoid the internet.
Staying calm, alert, and having the latest cybersecurity solution on your device are the most effective remedies against contracting a digital virus. And if you need more tips on how to stay safe online, you’re welcome to read Clario’s blog.