Drive-by Download Attack – What It Is and How It Works
How Cybercriminals Capitalize on Drive-by Download Attacks to Steal Data.
In today’s digital age, cybersecurity is more important than ever before. Unfortunately, cybercriminals are constantly finding new ways to infiltrate networks and steal data. One of the most insidious methods they use is known as a drive-by download attack. This type of attack can happen without you even realizing it, and it has the potential to wreak havoc on your personal or professional life. In this article, we’ll explore how cybercriminals capitalize on drive-by download attacks to steal data and what you can do to protect yourself and your organization against them.
What Is a Drive-by Download Attack
A drive-by download attack is a type of cyberattack where malicious code is downloaded and executed on a target device without the user’s knowledge or permission. This type of attack is often used to deliver malware, such as worms, trojans, and ransomware. There are a few different ways that drive-by download attacks can occur. One common method is through exploit kits, which are collections of exploit code that attackers can use to take advantage of vulnerabilities in software or devices. Once a vulnerable target visits a website hosting an exploit kit, the kit will attempt to deliver the payload to the target’s device. Another common method is through malvertising, where attackers insert malicious ads onto legitimate websites. When these ads are clicked on, they can redirect victims to websites that host exploit kits or directly download malware onto their devices. Drive-by download attacks can be difficult to prevent because they often exploit vulnerabilities that are not yet known or patched. Additionally, these attacks can occur even if users are only visiting legitimate websites; there is no need for users to click on anything or go to any specific website for the attack to succeed.
What Does a Drive-by Download Attack Look Like?
Once installed, the malware can be used to steal sensitive information from the infected computer, such as passwords, financial data, and personal information. The attacker can also use the malware to take control of the infected computer and use it to launch attacks against other endpoints. Drive-by download attacks are becoming increasingly common as attackers look for new ways to distribute their malware. These attacks are often difficult to detect and can have serious consequences for users who are infected. There are two types of drive-by download attacks: active and passive.
- In an active attack, the attacker tricks the victim into clicking on a malicious link that takes them to a website where they are infected with malware.
- In a passive attack, the attacker uses browser vulnerabilities to infect the victim’s computer without their knowledge or interaction.
Drive-by download attacks can be used to install malware on a victim’s computer, steal sensitive data, or both. The type of attack will determine what the payload will be. For example, if the goal is to steal data, then the attacker may create a malicious script that run when the victim visits a specific website. This script would then collect information such as login credentials and send it back to the attacker. Consequences range from adware infections to financial loss or even data encryption (in the case of ransomware).
Types Of Payloads Delivered
These attacks are used to introduce a series of malwares into the victim’s computer. These include:
- Man In the Middle (MITM) tools
- Botnet – These payloads are used mainly for DDOS attacks or in lateral movement of attacks.
Types of Data Targeted in Drive-by Downloads
There are many different types of data that can be targeted in a drive-by download attack. This includes everything from personal information such as names and addresses to financial information such as credit card numbers and bank account details. Cybercriminals will often target a wide range of data in order to maximize their chances of success.
- One of the most common types of data targeted in drive-by downloads is login credentials. This can include username and password combinations, as well as security questions and answers. If cybercriminals are able to obtain this type of information, they can gain access to a victim’s accounts and carry out further attacks.
- Another common type of data targeted is financial information. This can include credit card numbers, bank account details, and PayPal account details.
- Finally, another type of data that is often targeted is personal information. This type of information can be used by cybercriminals for identity theft or scamming purposes.
Steps to Protect Yourself from Drive-by Downloads
Though it can be hard knowing whether a website is safe or hosting malicious programs, there steps you can take to protect yourself and your devices:
1. Keep operating systems updated
Remember to update operating systems with the latest security patches. These can help prevent hackers from using this type of attacks to ultimately get ahold of your sensitive data.
2. Download legitimate software
When downloading programs, especially free ones, always verify their source. Hackers can create seemingly legitimate programs that trick people into thinking they are downloading the right thing.
3. Keep an eye out for pop-ups and stay away from suspicious websites and links
One of the best ways to protect yourself from drive-by downloads is by being aware of the websites you visit. You’ll know you’re on a safe site if you see “https://” or padlocks in the address bar. If you enter a website and several pop-up windows appear, close them all and leave the site immediately. These windows could be trying to lure you into accidentally deploying a drive-by download onto your device, compromising your data and network.
4. Remove unnecessary programs and apps
The more applications and plug-ins you have on your computer, the more security vulnerabilities you must manage.
5. Install antivirus software
Antivirus software acts as your first defense against drive-by downloads and other emerging online threats. With a watchful eye protecting your information, you’ll be able to surf the web with confidence and an extra layer of security.
6. Start using a traffic filtering software
As it scans inbound and outbound traffic to make sure no malware program is about to come near your PC, it also prevents private and confidential information from leaking to any suspicious receivers. One such program that we recommend is our own Heimdal™ Threat Prevention, which specializes in detecting malicious traffic and blocking it from reaching your PC.
Heimdal® Network DNS Security
- No need to deploy it on your endpoints;
- Protects any entry point into the organization, including BYODs;
- Stops even hidden threats using AI and your network traffic log;
- Complete DNS, HTTP and HTTPs protection, HIPS and HIDS;
Drive-by download attacks are a serious threat to data security, and threat actors have been increasingly leveraging them for malicious purposes. It is important for organizations and individuals alike to recognize the potential risks that these types of attacks pose, as well as the available countermeasures they can take to mitigate them. By taking proactive steps such as keeping systems up to date with patches, using strong passwords and antivirus software, running regular scans for malware, and avoiding suspicious links or downloads from untrusted sources, users can reduce their risk of becoming victims of drive-by download attacks. If you liked this article, follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube for more cybersecurity news and topics.