What is a Fileless Attack? This is an attack on a system that does not require any malicious software to infect or embed itself on a machine. For this attack to happen, it depends on a machine vulnerabilities, some vulnerabilities that may exist on a machine may include Weak passwords,URL redirection to untrusted sites and emails containing malicious attachments. It may exist in a computer’s RAM and uses common system tools to execute an attack by injecting malicious code into normally safe and trusted processes. Hackers take advantage of software vulnerability and use it to their advantage.
Why do cybercriminals use Fileless attacks?
Stealth – A hacker will avoid being detected by security products (Firewall and Antivirus) for as long as possible.
Privilege escalation – Once a vulnerable point is identified on the machine, a hacker will aim for administrative rights to gain full control of the system. This gives the hacker all the information they want.
Information gathering – Phishing through emails is used by attackers to gain access to vital information about a victim.
Persistence – the ability to keep the malware in the system, undetected, for the longest time possible How do fileless attacks work?
Fileless attacks begin like most other cyber attacks. Cyber criminals try to gain access to a computer system. They might try exploiting a security vulnerability in unpatched software or try using a brute force attack to crack the password of a service account. A more common technique is sending out phishing emails that try to trick people into clicking a malicious link or opening a malicious attachment, such as a Microsoft Word document containing a macro. Once the hackers gain access, they run commands or malware directly from the computer’s RAM memory. They often take advantage of built-in system administration tools, such as Windows PowerShell or Task Scheduler, to run commands and malware.
There are three main attack categories:
• Memory-only threats: These threats exploit vulnerabilities in Windows services to execute their payload directly in memory. Restarting a system infected by a memory-only threat disinfects it.
• Fileless persistence methods: In these attacks, even though the malicious payload is not loaded onto the hard disk, the infection remains even after the system is rebooted.
• Dual-use tools attacks: Attackers use legitimate Windows system tools and applications, but for malicious purposes, such as to gain credentials for target systems, or to send data back to them.
How to Mitigate against Fileless Attack?
Some common-sense strategies you can implement to make yourself less of a target include;
1.) Don’t Click on Suspicious Links
Suspicious links are widely used by hackers are they are less suspicious. Suspicious links may look similar to the original/legitimate link/website. There are several ways you can identify a suspicious link:
1. Examine the source
2. Examine the Etiquette
3. Abstain from the attachments
2.) Using an Updated Machine. Always use the latest version of whatever operating system is available. Install all patches and updates.
3.) Disable Non-Essential Tools If you’re on a Windows machine, you should disable PowerShell, Windows Management Instrumentation, and macros — unless these tools are vital to your organization’s operations. All three are legitimate programs provided by Microsoft, but they’re also the most vulnerable when it comes to fileless attacks. If you don’t know what these tools are, you’re probably not using them.
4.) Monitor Your Network’s Traffic This step has less to do with fileless malware protection and more to do with detection, but you should monitor your network’s activity to see if there are sudden spikes in traffic for which your team can’t account. Those momentary blips could indicate that someone has unauthorized access to one of your organization’s machines.
5.) Implement the ‘Principle of Least Privilege’. Only an administrator should have full access to the system. Other employee should have restricted access to the system. In Conclusion, Fileless attacks are hard to detect, prevent and contain.
This is especially true if you lack the IT and security know-how to:
• Monitor network traffic
• Assign admin roles
• Disable critical functions Be sure to follow these steps to protect your data. For all your security needs, reach us; firstname.lastname@example.org or +254 20 4076000