One of the ongoing battles that accounting firms face when trying to stay in compliance with data privacy regulations and protect their data from theft is against the continuing evolution of viruses, trojans, and other types of malware.
As soon as standard advanced threat detection solutions update themselves to catch a new threat, hackers change tactics to get by those cybersecurity defenses.
One of the popular tactics being used is called a “fileless attack.” These often skip detection by standard anti-malware programs that look for phishing and other email threats because they don’t contain any malware. Thus, there is no malware file for a program to detect and quarantine.
This type of threat rose 256% over the first half of 2019 due to its effectiveness at getting by standard antivirus protections. Instead, it uses a device’s own internal programs against it.
How do you combat something that has no file to detect or quarantine? Through a type of managed cybersecurity service called “application whitelisting.”
What is a Fileless Attack?
To understand why application whitelisting is important, we first need to look at what a fileless attack is.
A fileless attack, also called a Windows PowerShell attack, does not use a malicious malware code, so it doesn’t leave a footprint in the way that normal malware does.
Instead, a fileless attack sends dangerous commands to a legitimate program, in most cases the Windows PowerShell, which is a command-line shell and scripting language that allows tasks for computer programs to be automated.
By taking advantage of the scripting commands in PowerShell, hackers can cause programs to send them back sensitive data, register keystrokes, and many other dangerous activities.
Because fileless attacks are sending commands to a legitimate program and don’t contain malware, they’re often undetectable by standard cybersecurity measures.
How Does Application Whitelisting Stop Fileless (and Other) Attacks?
One way that Connect2Geek helps customers prevent fileless attacks, zero-day attacks, and other advanced threats is through the use of application whitelisting in ThreatLocker.
Application whitelisting tells a device which scripts, executables, and programs are allowed to run on a system, and it blocks any that aren’t on the list.
If we use the analogy of a bouncer trying to keep gate crashers out of an exclusive event, the difference between standard anti-malware solutions and application whitelisting would look like this.
The bouncer would try to identify everyone that didn’t look like they were approved to be there, checking them against a list of known gatecrashers. The bouncer may also look for suspicious behavior. The problem is that some gatecrashers know the behavior the bouncer is looking for, so they dress nicely and are on their best behavior until they get through the gate.
In this case, instead of having a list of known gatecrashes, the bouncer has a list of approved guests that are allowed to attend the event. He doesn’t have to try to identify who may or may not be a gatecrasher, because if someone isn’t on the list, they don’t get in.
You can see how application whitelisting can be a much more efficient method to not only keep gatecrashers out of an event, but also to keep malicious threats out of your computer system, including the fileless attacks.
When we set up application whitelisting, we go through all the approved processes that would normally run on a computer. Anything that could potentially leave a system and its data at risk are blocked.
We can then take application whitelisting protection a step farther by using Ringfencing.
What is Ringfencing?
Just in case a hacker is trying to take advantage of something one of those whitelisted programs and processes can do, we use ringfencing to “fence in” what’s allowed to run automatically and what will require approval because it could potentially cause a problem.
Ringfencing gives a list of permissions to whitelisted applications telling them how they are allowed to interact with other applications and which system resources they can access.
This keeps your cybersecurity defenses a step ahead of the hackers who may have figured out which applications are typically whitelisted and try to exploit them.
Application whitelisting and ringfencing also help protect your system against zero-day malware attacks, which is malware so new that it hasn’t been catalogued in any threat database yet.
With all the financial files that accounting firms and CPAs deal with every day, having more than just standard IT security is necessary to keep you protected from a costly breach or security compliance violation.
Is Your Current Anti-Malware Solution Enough?
No matter how much malware evolves, Connect2Geek has solutions that can keep you one step ahead and ensure your files, as well as those of your accounting clients, are properly protected.
Learn more by scheduling a free security consultation today! Call 208-468-4323 or reach out online.