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Malware: More Hype Than Reality
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Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Ninja
1/17/2014 | 4:20:57 PM
Education
The security community has been advocating better user education as a defense against threats for decades. It hasn't really taken.
Marilyn Cohodas
Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Strategist
1/17/2014 | 4:35:38 PM
Re: Education
The most effective lesson is experience. I recall a story from a CIO who "tested" employees by sending out an email that contained some relatively benign malicious code. The security team was very surprised that so many people (who should have known better) actually opened the email! Point made.
ChrisMurphy
ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Strategist
1/17/2014 | 6:38:12 PM
Re: Education
Sure, malware isn't likely to kill us, but if IT ignores it and lets it run rampant, won't our PCs get so cluttered and crudded up with malware that they're hopelessly slow and killing productivity? Maybe malware's less like a shark and more like kudzu.   
PaulS681
PaulS681,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/18/2014 | 2:39:42 PM
Users are the weak link
 

Great article Andrew. When I first started reading this I thought "What is he talking about?... Malware is hype?"

As I read on I see what you are talking about. User education is vital in the fight against malware. You can only safeguard your computer systems so much. If info is given out over social channels and phone calls then all the work you put in to protect your network is out the window.
PaulS681
PaulS681,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/18/2014 | 2:46:06 PM
Re: Education
 

@Chris... I think you are missing the point of this article. IT needs to spend time on Malware detection but there is only so much you can do. What if someone calls an employee and asks them some questions and gets info on your network? IT can't do anything about that except train people on the risks of giving any info out unless you absolutely know who you are talking to.
TerryB
TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
1/20/2014 | 12:50:19 PM
Re: Users are the weak link
You're obviously correct, Paul, you have to try and educate. But I just think of that quote from that comic Ron White: You can't fix stupid.

Even worse, I don't think you can fix curious either. Our CFO here, who is as intelligent as anyone you'll ever meet, got a phishing email from (supposedly) Pacific Gas & Electric talking about what he owed them and to click on this embedded link to get more info. Even though we live in Wisconsin, he tried to click link. Thankfully our proxy server malware filter blocked him, the link was trying to go to some South American ISP hosted site.
jagibbons
jagibbons,
User Rank: Strategist
1/20/2014 | 6:24:11 PM
Re: Users are the weak link
Good point, @TerryB. Even IT pros can fall victim to a really well-written email or carefully crafted and scripted phone call. You can't fix, or train away, stupid. What you can do is make sure you have a multi-pronged approach that includes user security training and technical security tools. Both are important, and there's probably more involved to make sure you have a well-rounded and comprehensive plan in place.
melgross
melgross,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/20/2014 | 7:51:39 PM
Re: Education
Look at your own site. The posts are filled with these junk posts of people making money. Who knows what will happen if someone responds. But is anyone e removing these? No. On the front page, right now, every post highlighted on the right is a junk post. Why? There is no excuse. There's one right below mine. How can you talk about security if you people here care so little about it? And if you say that they're not malware, well, they are at least scams. And you can't know if they haven't been hijacked by malware producers without finding out. Have you done that?
Whoopty
Whoopty,
User Rank: Ninja
1/21/2014 | 6:54:35 AM
Re: Education
That's a fair point. Malware is often dependent on the user heading to a less than repuitable site, but if links to those sites are spammed on safe ones, it's harder to avoid. 
Marilyn Cohodas
Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Strategist
1/21/2014 | 8:32:19 AM
Re: Education
This is a great thread -- and I'm glad the headline (in the wake of the Target breach) captured everyone's attention. Of course malware need to be taken seriously. But users -- even sophisticated one -- are also very vulnerable to many other kinds of attacks -- attack that require constant education and re-education. 

I read, edit and write about security every day and I know how easy it is to become jaded and complacent about best user security practices, so it's incumbent upon management to constantly remind employees of the risks -- and how to avoid them. 
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