(also fileless malware attacks)
Fileless attacks definition
A fileless attack is a cyberattack that uses malicious code executed directly in memory or leveraging legitimate system tools, rather than traditional malware that relies on files stored on a disk. This stealthy approach enables fileless attacks to evade detection by most antivirus software and security solutions because they do not create easily identifiable footprints on the targeted system.
Fileless attacks examples
- PowerShell exploitation: Attackers can use the built-in Windows PowerShell scripting environment to execute malicious commands or scripts directly in memory, without leaving traces on the hard drive.
- Registry manipulation: Cybercriminals can hide malicious payloads within the Windows Registry, enabling the attack to persist and execute without creating files on the system.
- Living off the land: Fileless attacks can leverage legitimate system tools or processes, such as Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI), to carry out malicious actions while remaining undetected.
Defending against fileless attacks
- Keep software and operating systems updated to ensure the latest security patches are applied.
- Disable or restrict the use of scripting environments like PowerShell and WMI if not required for system operation.
- Implement strict user access controls to minimize the attack surface and reduce the likelihood of unauthorized access.