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Understanding the Impact of Malware

Malware

For computer users, businesses, service providers, and software developers, the impact of malware and the resulting fear of fraud and theft can be enormous.

For instance, spyware that enables an attacker to steal a password and infiltrate a corporate network could result in dramatic financial losses, including fraud losses, theft of intellectual property, diminished brand value, and lost productivity. If a data theft becomes public, customers and potential prospects could take their business to competitors where they feel their confidential data is safer.

Having malware identified in downloadable software or on a business’ website can potentially ruin the reputation of the brand or business. For instance, in the current version of Google Search, if Google detects malware on a website it will label the site in its search results with a large warning that the site could be harmful. Potential customers would then stay away in droves.

Once Google flags a site as potentially harmful, purifying the site and having it reindexed as a “safe” site by Google takes considerable time and effort. The business typically has to file a reconsideration request with Google Webmaster Central to have Google recognize that the site is not a security risk and remove the warning.

Losses due to cyber crime are now estimated at $100 billion annually. Businesses can ill afford to ignore the threat of malware, least of all those that sell or provide software for download.

December 2008 saw the largest jump ever in the number of sites with malicious code, reaching an all-time high of 31,173. This represents a whopping 827 percent increase from the beginning of the year.

—The Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG), March 17, 2009

Software can be signed with a trusted CA, self-signed, or unsigned. When used externally, a self-signed certificate has little credibility and platforms do not recognize its root. Customer loyalty is more important than ever, and the best way to build a long-term relationship is to consistently deliver the assurance that your product can be trusted. Code signing benefits everyone involved

• Developers can ensure the integrity of their applications and protect their intellectual property and brand image

• End users can be sure that applications originated from authentic sources

• Companies can build trust in their brands, which could help increase downloads and revenue

• Network operators can protect critical network resources from malicious malware attacks

• Publishers can safely and efficiently distribute patches and updates

Finally, businesses should protect themselves and their customers from malware using a layered security approach. In addition to code signing, businesses should look to implement technology such as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Extended Validation (EV) SSL to encrypt sensitive information and help customers authenticate the site.

It’s a first line of defense that helps prevent users – both consumers and business users – from falling prey to malware and other vicious online attacks. And it ultimately protects your company’s reputation, online revenue stream, and the bottom line.

Source: Associated Press

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