With emerging technology and enhancing security features, organizations are becoming more mindful of new cyber attacks. The security of an enterprise improves when process updates, patches, and checks have been implemented fairly well. However, it is difficult to speculate if an organization is entirely safe from a malware attack. Organizations often look for different security procedures to follow to maintain their security. So, today in this article, we will comprehend an exciting topic: Malware Vaccine.

Is it real? Is it just a myth?

So, let’s get started with the topic :)

We have all heard of the term - vaccines. So, more or less, we are all aware of this term because of the covid scenario that we went through. So going by google’s definition-
A vaccine is a biological preparation that provides active acquired immunity to a particular infectious disease. A vaccine typically contains an agent that resembles a disease-causing microorganism and is often made from weakened or killed forms of the microbe, its toxins, or one of its surface proteins.

So, a vaccine would create an environment in your biological system such that if a virus tries to infect you, it will see that you are already infected and hence will not harm you again.

Following the same analogy, malware vaccines are harmless parts of malware applied to the system, creating an environment that tricks the actual malware into believing that it is already infected. These harmful malware parts are often termed infection markers.

Usually, malware does not try to infect the already infected system. This is why malware might not get executed if injected into the infected system, preventing the system from actually infecting it.

So, what could be those harmful parts that we are talking about??? It could be making changes in the registry or files, modifying the configuration, or adding some C2C servers. Malware vaccines may often crash the malware causing it to malfunction and not behave as the malware authors intended.

For instance, a STOP/DJVU ransomware vaccine, created by Karsten Hahn and John Parol, tricked the ransomware into not encrypting files, and hence, no ransom was asked as a result. So, stopping the primary intention of the malware would help a lot. Malware vaccines work independently of any obfuscation too.

So, is it safe to implement a malware vaccine into the system??

Installing a malware vaccine would make changes to the system. However, the infection markers are pretty harmless, but the security scanners or antiviruses might not understand and remove them by stating it as malicious activity. Again, suppose we set up the security procedures such that it does not detect those infection markers. In that case, this will again cause an issue, as in an actual malware attack, these malicious operations might get undetected. Often, vaccines work as a background process, and users might not even be aware that they ended up downloading a malicious file.

Thus, the malware vaccine implementation can be considered a mere early stage that needs to be revised several times to reduce the number of mistrusts and cons compared to the pros. Of course, it could be an excellent idea to implement such a mechanism into your device that does not let any malware infect a system. However, this again does not ensure that newly written malware can not try to make new changes to the system that have not been worked upon by the vaccine yet.

So what should we do???

Be aware of the fact that nothing is 100% secure. As new and robust security measures are being enforced, new kinds of attack scenarios are also reproduced. So, it’s better not to trust any unknown link, sources, people, or device. The attackers may not always be after stealing your data but may also use your device to commit other malicious activities. So stay safe, be aware and keep learning. :) You can also check out my previous blogs here for more such security related articles.