Many people across the globe have learned about the dangers of digital communications containing malicious code. Such malware often disguises its true intentions by posing as an email from a trusted source. Companies have taken measures to teach their employees to be on high alert for these types of attacks, known as phishing schemes, but there may be another threat lurking with equally devastating effects.
Those cat and baby elephant videos that everyone loves may not be as innocent as previously thought. According to a recent McAfee Labs Threat Report, there has been an increase in hacking schemes that leverage images and videos. The videos and images pass along malicious code to a user, often without detection, carrying viruses, and setting up users for ransomware attacks, the report said.
The use of digital stenography, the art and science of hiding secret messages, is now being used by hackers and cybercriminals to evade detection, while wreaking havoc on consumers and companies. The process works by using an algorithm embedded into a video or image file and then “transmitted into the target system” where “the secret information is extracted,” the report said. The malicious code is often undetectable “by the human eye or by security technology,” it said.
Although some hackers are moving their efforts to malicious images and videos, malware has yet to slow down. Mobile malware has grown 79 percent over the “past four quarters to 16.7 million samples,” the report said. Additionally, ransomware incidents also grew 59 percent in the “past four quarters to 9.6 million samples,” it said. Ransomware attacks don’t seem to be fading away, as shown through the WannaCry attack that affected over 300,000 computers in at least 153 countries.
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