With most people relying on internet for their daily lives it is no wonder that hackers are becoming more evolved and using more sophisticated methods of stealing our information. In the early 2000’s it was enough that with your new computer you also installed a simple anti-virus program which prevented your information from being stolen.
These days everyone who uses a computer in any way should be aware that staying secure has become a lot harder and far more complicated.
There are some things that the internet user can do to ensure that he is protected from hackers.
Watch out for Apps
Now you may think that installing an app on your phone or laptop will provide you with added security than your traditional desk computer, but you may be wrong in this.
There have been several incidences where the developer has accidentally left some vulnerabilities in the program. These will leave your device open to anyone who knows how to retrieve your data.
A recent case is that of PayPal where a security researcher found that there was a flaw in the app which allowed an attacker to bypass the double-factor authentication method. This is an extra layer of security which, when in place should make your account safer. Unfortunately, at that time it was not in place and the top anti-virus programs could not catch and combat the attacker.
It pays then to be vigilant if you have any online banking accounts.
Even legit programs can become corrupted
You may often hear people say that if you insist on downloading junk on the computer, it is only a matter of time before you are hacked. While this may be good advice, it is not necessarily true. Sometimes even legitimate programmes have been found to have a virus which attacks the computer.
Watch those emails
Most of the viral infections which you will get on your computer have come to you via an email which has contained a worm or a trojan.
Worms are programmes that are hidden and then transmitted through the internet and networks, while Trojans typically run hidden and undesired actions.
The viruses are triggered when you open an email attachment or sometimes even by just reading the email with the code in the HTML.
Paying attention to opening unknown and suspicious emails should become part of our checks every time we turn on our computers.
So, what’s the future of antivirus protection?
The truth of the matter is that the antivirus software industry is dead, it has been this way for quite some time now. It struggles to keep pace with the sophistication and motivation of attackers and their methods.
The next component of antivirus protection is machine learning. This is because it is possible to train an artificial intelligence how to identify a malicious code. This can be done far quicker than with the methods in place right now.
Right now, researchers only identify new malware and threats by adding them to an ever-growing database of codes.
Malware users and hackers can change their worms and trojans very slightly to interfere with databases because they only match the exact code.
Machine learning will help an AI identity to recognise these small shifts in codes. This can be done without a human intervening.
When the AI is trained to identify malicious code at base level, it can compare other codes to recognise when codes are being attacked.
Where before your antivirus protection software simply alerted you to an infection or attack, the new and modern malware is designed to let you follow the attack every step of the way.
To address future threats, antimalware must evolve to include threats from the ‘cloud’ to the endpoint.
This means that behaviour patters need to be exchanged between all network communities so that both detective and preventative methods are in place.
Correlation, along with smart monitoring across all networks, including antimalware software platforms is critical when it comes to detecting and isolating, and finally eradicating the attack.
As attacks become more focused on extraction of personal data, decisions will need to be made on content and how to protect it.
The precursor to this new and modern approach is the advanced sensor network ‘Honeynet’ where data is gathered on all methods of attack as well as strategies used by attackers. The data and information gathered is then used in the defence against any attacker.
While there are several new viruses such as Nimda and Klez, which strive to take advantage of vulnerable sites, education and awareness strategies are the only way to prevent these attacks.
Unless internet users are aware, worms like Nimda and Klez will in the future also be able to attack smart phones. Being malicious codes, it may then be possible to record conversations and then forward then to other users without consent. Removal or altering of statements and even changing phone numbers in the memory and replacing them with numbers which are long distance in order to generate bills is something that we should be aware of if we do not have adequate antimalware protection.
To sum up
It is not an unreasonable thought that in the future our satellite television will also have some type of antimalware device to protect attackers from collecting data about our personal likes and dislikes when it comes down to what we watch.
Heaven forbid that we should need antimalware on anything else which we can control via the internet, like heating your homes or turning on the lights before we arrive home!