All You Need to Know About Emotet Malware

  • By David Lukic
  • Mar 21, 2022

The world of cybercrime is constantly evolving. To keep your personal and professional networks and devices safe, you must know different cyber threats, how to spot them, and how to protect yourself. 

Malware is a significant category among cyber threats. Malware is software installed on a device or network without the owner’s consent or even awareness. It then performs unauthorized actions, such as stealing data, sending viruses to your contacts, and many more damaging actions. 

Emotet Malware Defined

Emotet malware attack cost

Emotet Malware is a dangerous and costly malware type. Designed initially as malware in banking, Emotet attempts to install onto your device to steal private information stealthily. Emotet is a Trojan, another important term in cyber security to understand. Trojans are programs that offer one purpose, only to deliver on a different, often fraudulent and damaging one. Security researchers first identified the Emotet Trojan in 2014, and it has since evolved causing spam and malware delivery services. This includes other banking Trojans. Emotet Malware can be hard to detect, as it uses functionality that helps it evade detection by many anti-malware products. Another threat of Emotet Malware is that it can be pretty easy to spread. It often spreads to other connected computers and other devices. This means that Emotet Malware has “worm” properties, a term that refers to malware’s ability to infect other devices on the network. This information helps explain why Emotet is one of the most costly and destructive malwares in existence. Emotet Malware affects a variety of entities, including individuals and private and public organizations. If Emotet Malware strikes, it can cost over $1M per incident to clear and correct. 

Where Did Emotet Malware Originate? 

It is hard to say where Emotet Malware came from originally. The first Emotet attacks were against banks in Austria and Germany, and the main aim of those initial attacks was to steal sensitive account information. This could point to the cybercriminals who first sent out Emotet Malware being residents of Europe, but that is a guess at best. Emotet has gone through several iterations where attack types and targets have changed since its discovery in 2014. It remains a danger to individuals and organizations and has gotten more widespread and damaging since its inception. 

How to Prevent an Emotet Malware Attack 

While Emotet Malware attacks can seem scary and act as a serious threat, they are also highly preventable, mainly through device user education, best practices, and cyber security tools that protect your devices and networks. Here are some specific steps you can take to protect your personal and business devices: 

           Updating devices

  1. Keep your devices up to date with the latest updates and patches for operating systems. Scammers easily spot network vulnerability, and they will seize the opportunity! Users often procrastinate installing updates because they do not want to spare a few minutes or deal with restarting their devices. Get into the habit of installing patches and updates as you become aware of them and implement procedures at your business that require other network users to do the same. 
    Clicking suspicious link
  2. Avoid clicking suspicious links or downloading attachments that come from unfamiliar sources. Fraudulent links and attachments allow Emotet Malware to gain a foothold on your system or network.
    How to spot suspicious links or attachments:
    • They come from unfamiliar email addresses.
    • They look like they are coming from a contact, but if you look at the sender’s address closer, there is a typo or a strange domain (ex. .biz).
    • There is an urgency to the email, and there is a call to action for the recipient (ex., your Director of Accounting needs you to review the attached invoice).
    • A friend or colleague sends you an email that only contains a link with no explanation. 
    • A service you use (ex. FedEx) sends you an email asking you to click a link and verify or provide information to receive your order or keep your account active.
    • Always verify anything that looks suspicious by calling the sender.
    • Use an email filtering system that prevents potentially fraudulent emails from reaching your primary inbox.
    • Stay abreast of emerging scams by reading cyber security news releases.
      password checker
  3. Use a strong password and require people at your organization to do the same. A strong password is long (over ten characters), not used on another website, contains capital and lowercase letters, special characters, and numbers. Passwords should also be changed at least every 90 days. 
  4. Utilize a comprehensive cyber security strategy and suite of services that keep your devices safe. The more extensive your network, the more time and money you will need to develop your cyber security setup. 

How to Spot and Respond to an Emotet Malware Attack 

Ideally, you will stay ahead of Emotet Malware attacks through prevention. Knowing how to spot an Emotet Malware attack once it occurs helps ensure a swift response. It doesn’t help that the sneaky nature of Emotet Malware makes it hard to detect. It can lurk on your network for years. 

Some steps to take to check if Emotet Malware has attacked your devices: 

  1. Be on the lookout for unfamiliar applications or services on your device. If you spot any, dig deeper to see if Emotet Malware is posing as another service. Pay specific attention to those that have a fully numerical name. 
  2. Review your bank account activity carefully. If you spot charges that you do not recognize, this could be a sign that Emotet Malware is stealing your financial information.
  3. Install a professional security program and allow it to install its updates periodically. Emotet Malware continues to evolve and adapt, so staying on top of anti-virus updates is key to making a difference. 
  4. Reach out to the FBI to check their list of affected networks. The bureau has been investigating Emotet Malware for several years and may allow you to find information from a few years ago that is still affecting your network or device. 

Knowledge is power when it comes to cybercrime. Staying in the know and ensuring your colleagues do as well goes a long way in preventing Emotet Malware from negatively impacting your devices or organizational networks. 

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