KILLWARE – A New Trend In Cybercrime

Malware With The Intent To Harm Or Kill Humans!

A SCARS Cybercrime Insight

Over The Last Two Years, We Have Seen Malware Used To Hurt Humans!

What is Killware?

Killware is a program or code that deploys on machines with the sole intention of harming people.

This harm does not correspond to financial or emotional harm, but instead, it has to do with physical harm.

As the name suggests, Killware is a type of malware that intends to take lives.

Unlike ransomware that gets into your system and locks it away from you until you give them money, killware is a virus run by psychopaths that have nothing to do with money. They just want to create destruction.

During an interview for USA Today, Alejandro Mayorkas, a U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, said that ordinary consumers need to increase their cyber hygiene. He pointed out that work in many cases now is done from home, and the interconnectedness creates vulnerabilities that bad actors could exploit. While up until now, hackers have predominantly been focused on causing monetary damage, recent attacks on critical infrastructure confirm that more and more hackers are out there to simply cause harm. While financial troubles can be undone one way or another, the actions of cyber terrorists can be lethal and irreversible.

A good example is an incident that occurred in Florida earlier this year. The cybercriminals behind the attack used malicious code to tackle a water plant in Oldsmar, Florida. The sole purpose of the hacker who penetrated the system was to cause water contamination that could have harmed real people living in the sunshine state. Luckily, the attack was stopped before the water quality was affected. However, the attacker was never caught, and to this day, no one knows who was behind the attack. If the attack was successful – people could have gotten very hurt. What makes this particular attack scary is that the water facility was attacked purely to cause harm. There were no ransom requests.

Should you be Worried?

In general, killware will not impact consumer computers (we hope), such as the laptops and devices that regular people use on a day-to-day basis.

Instead, the main intention is to attack companies and agencies that control life depending activities.

For instance, city or state networks control the traffic signals. These cybercriminals or hackers can use their killware viruses to attack this system and cause disruption in the traffic lights. This will potentially lead to accidents and may also result in road fatalities and injuries. It can also block first responders with disastrous results to life and property.

Another example would be a killware attack on flight control systems. This can lead to incorrect instructions during a flight operation and lead to a deadly plane crash. Thus, these attacks on critical computer systems and servers can impact the lives of thousands of people, leaving them to face a traumatic incident.

Another target are hospitals, and with the thousands of network-connected devices doing everything from monitoring patients to administrating drugs, maintaining life on ventilators, and more! The potential for harm is astronomical.

You should not be worried about your personal asset or business – theoretically. Instead, organizations and government agencies should be the ones to consider the impact of such malware. Fortunately, large organizations spend countless of money on the protection of their systems and firewalls. However, as we have seen mistakes happen and if ransomware can shut down a hospital, killware could commit murder just as easily.

The Cost of Human Errors

With killware present as another type of malware threat in 2021, the costs of human errors are now much higher.

Most of the time, malware entering your system is due to human errors. Essential companies that are running critical servers now have to be extra careful with their passwords and human errors.

If you run a system that can potentially put the well-being of your workers at risk, then you should be more considerate about your passwords, security, and errors with the added threats of killware.  You need to make sure to install updated firewalls to your IT infrastructure, along with antivirus and anti-malware software.

However …

Let’s not forget that our lives are protected by our devices 24/7 at home too!

Our IoT devices, from security cameras and alarms, to thermostats, to alternate power systems, all have the potential to cause physical harm or contribute to actions that can place you and your family at risk.

Imagine is home invaders use killware to invade a property with the intent to commit a crime? What if a hacker uses killware to take control of a car on the freeway? What if a pedophile takes control of alarms and baby monitors to kidnap a child? What if remote drone farm equipment could be used by a hacker to poison food? What if automated pharmacies could be controlled to fill prescriptions incorrectly? What if home patient monitoring systems could be controlled by killware to kill an elderly patient by not reporting emergencies? These are just a few examples.

What Should You Do?

If the killware news has made you more alarmed about the vulnerabilities of your computers, devices, or network, then you can strengthen them by first investing in the best in class anti-malware. An anti-malware investment is well worth your money, and it will help protect your digital assets and valuable data.

Have a malware protector running around the clock scanning for viruses, and alarming you overall potential threats. Furthermore, to avoid human errors, make sure that you do not use any common passwords that apply to all your accounts. Use separate passwords on every device and account. Use a password manager app to help you keep track of them, but also have a paper password log book!

Make sure to clear your browser cache automatically (see your browser settings) since most hackers tend to read your cache files before attacking a system. The best approach is to schedule your browser to clear the cache every time you shut down your laptop or device.

Lastly, make sure that you do not click on links that come with emails, texts, or messages without proper investigation.  Make sure that you thoroughly inspect and investigate the sender’s profile and address before you decide to trust their source.  Email inbox is the most common playground for hackers. Hence, be careful of all emails that fly into your inbox unexpectedly.

If you are concerned about the security of any device, simply unplug it and stop using it!

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