When it comes to cybersecurity threats, there are new computer viruses and malware variants emerging nearly every day. These system infections can be disastrous, especially if they affect the network of places like hospitals, companies, or schools. These viruses are typically built to obtain money from victims, but not all malware is created equal. The latest digital threat, known as “killware,” is creating serious complications for cybersecurity experts. Its goal? To harm its targets and leave them with no options and no escape. But what is killware exactly and how does it work? Join us below as we discuss the killware cybersecurity threat in detail.
What is Killware?
Malware can have dangerous repercussions beyond an inoperable system or inaccessible network. Ransomware attacks have even been known to bankrupt entire companies, and even cost lives. Cases of malware interrupting treatment at hospitals or other medical care facilities are not new, but these aren’t necessarily “killware.” So, what is killware and how do cybersecurity experts define it?
Killware is a type of malware program that has the intention of harming targets. When killware is deployed, the goal is often to cause deliberate damage or trauma to the victims. Cyber attacks that use killware can shut down entire hospitals in one fell swoop. This is a genuine threat to the lives of those individuals who are at medical facilities for life-saving treatment. When standard malware crosses the line into targeting the lives of victims, it becomes killware.
How Do Killware Attacks Work?
Killware attacks target specific individuals, locations, or networks with the hopes of causing serious damage. These attacks are especially pervasive in medical spaces, but they can occur in a variety of settings. Depending on the goal of the attack, killware can exist in many different places and cause unique complications.
If a killware attack were to go after hospitals in a cyberattack, they could cut off that hospital completely. This means that doctors would not be able to obtain important, necessary, and even life-saving information. Alternatively, patients who are on medical devices that require electricity can suffer if an attack takes out the power.
Similarly, infrastructures such as water treatment plants can also experience major problems if an attacker deploys killware. This malware can disrupt production or, as in one case out of Florida, add dangerous levels of chemicals to a supply. Ultimately, the different ways that an attacker can leverage killware are endless. Although killware attacks can put targets at serious risk, there are ways to protect yourself against them.
Protecting Yourself from Killware
Ensuring that you are safe from killware may seem challenging but there are certain ways to help assure that your data remains secure. Of course, some social engineering attacks can be difficult to defend against. There will never be software or antivirus that keeps your devices 100% safe. However, when it comes to keeping yourself safe from killware, any defense is helpful for mitigating and reducing attacks.
If your home has smart devices, such as a smart TV or a voice assistant, it’s necessary to ensure that your credentials for those devices are secure. To do this, update your password and add two-factor authentication to your accounts right away. Without two-factor authentication on your profiles, someone can easily break into your accounts. Additionally, updating the password on all of your Internet-ready devices is a great way to give yourself extra security.
Next, update your Wi-Fi password to something secure and complex to protect your network. Ensure that you have a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, as well as numbers and approved characters.
Finally, get a reliable VPN on your Internet-ready devices to reduce the chance of killware on your hardware. As we mentioned, there is no true way to prevent every possible variety of cyberattack. However, using a VPN gives you more privacy and makes it easier to hide your data from potentially prying eyes. This can help you reduce the likelihood of experiencing a serious attack.
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