Destructive payloads in malware, whether attacks aimed at breaching a network or database security system, are usually rare because attackers prefer to take control of their victims’ computers for financial gain or to steal intellectual property. However, recently there have been several attacks where the only goal was to cause as much damage as possible. Some of these attacks seem to be targeted — others were implemented as worms. McAfee Labs expects this malicious behavior will grow in 2013.
It is impossible to determine whether these attacks are hacktivism taken to a new level or just malicious intent — but the worrying fact is that companies appear to be vulnerable to such attacks. As with distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, the level of technical expertise required to launch these attacks is rather low. If attackers are able to install destructive malware on a large number of machines, the result can be devastating.
How can organizations prepare for such incidents and, more importantly, how can they mitigate or prevent some of the damage?