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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 | 2:46:06 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.
Andrew Froehlich
Andrew Froehlich,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/21/2014 | 12:33:35 PM
Re: Education
To reiterate...in no way do I think that the use of malware prevention and mitigation tools should be cast aside. They are clearly beneficial. My point is that so many in IT security are laser focused on these tools that we often forget that most malware can be easily prevented with proper end-user education.
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. 
RobPreston
RobPreston,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/21/2014 | 9:08:56 AM
Re: Education
To melgross's point about the comment spam, we're on the case. It seems to be particularly egriegious over the weekend, when there are fewer editotrs to spot it and remove it. We're seeking an automated solution. 
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.
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.
Andrew Froehlich
Andrew Froehlich,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/21/2014 | 12:37:38 PM
Re: Users are the weak link
I agree 100% @jagibbons - But it's been my experience that much more focus on prevention tools and very little on education.  While it's true that people will make mistakes, the more education regarding malware and social engineering they receive, the less likely they'll make stupid mistakes that let malware in.
jagibbons
jagibbons,
User Rank: Strategist
1/21/2014 | 7:19:22 PM
Re: Users are the weak link
You can never go wrong with higher awareness and more training. Most people learn by repetition, so keep drilling it into their heads. That can also be a lot less expensive than expanding the set of technical security tools to protect the network.
David F. Carr
David F. Carr,
User Rank: Strategist
1/21/2014 | 12:37:07 PM
It pays to be paranoid
I've very rarely had problems with malware on any computer I've owned or operated, I think probably because I'm reasonably paranoid about clicking on links or downloading software from unfamiliar sources. I know drive-by attacks are supposed to be possible, but I haven't experienced them. (Should I say, "that I know of"?)

Of course, it also pays to be paranoid enough to run scans on your computer regularly and particularly when it's acting strangely in case something evil has taken root.
David F. Carr
David F. Carr,
User Rank: Strategist
1/21/2014 | 12:46:30 PM
Related: Target, Neiman Marcus Malware Creators Identified
Update on the biggest malware story of the day: Target, Neiman Marcus Malware Creators Identified
Somedude8
Somedude8,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/21/2014 | 4:01:49 PM
Protected Against 12,543,654,654 threats
I always find it funny how anti Malware programs go way out of their way to let you know that they have protected your system against {insert ludicrous number here} threats since the date it was installed. And how almost every single one of those 'threats' is a cookie.
Marilyn Cohodas
Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Strategist
1/22/2014 | 9:04:02 AM
Re: Protected Against 12,543,654,654 threats
Totally agree somedude8 - those notices go beyond funny, they are downright annoying & counterproductive -- just like a nagging spouse (mine totally excepted from that characterization). I so appreciate the warnings that something in my AV software is out of date, but not when it's a thinly veiled attemped to get me to upgrade to a more expensive package. Those kinds of activities work against the anti-malware industry, especially companies selling to consumers, who will get frustrated and not adopt the security practices necessary to prevent an attack. We all know that consumers are bringing their devices into enterprise networks in drove. So everyone is at greater risk....


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