Well-honed attacks sneak under the radar

Targeted attacks often send a carefully constructed e-mail to one or a handful of specifically chosen targets

Samples of documents used in carefully prepared targeted attacks make clear that while a suspicious eye is a great security tool, some especially dangerous attacks might slide right by you.

Targeted attacks often send a carefully constructed e-mail to one or a handful of specifically chosen targets. The messages are well-written, and don't contain the tell-tale typos and errors that often accompany malware campaigns. They're far more rare, and far more dangerous, than the average attack.

The seven 'bait file' samples posted by F-Secure "have been used to infect specific individuals in different organizations in order to gain access to their computer," the company writes,and all contained exploits that would install remote-control malware on a victim PC.

But of the five I can read (one appears to be in Russian, another German), only one would immediately trigger my own warning bells. If I opened any of the other .pdf or .doc files I probably wouldn't notice anything amiss.

The good news is that even if one of these sneaky little buggers crept past you, they'd likely hit a brick wall if your software was up-to-date. Unless a targeted attack goes after an unpatched zero-day software flaw (which unfortunately does happen), its exploit payload would fizzle out if you've patched the flaw it looks for. So keep clicking yes to those automatic update notices, and fire up that Secunia PSI.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Erik Larkin

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?