When it comes to cybercrimes, ransomware seems to be getting all the attention lately.
Rightfully so. Whenever there’s a major network breach and multimillion-dollar payout to retrieve stolen data, ransomware is usually the culprit. What’s more, ransomware attacks are becoming more frequent — 2021 was a banner year for network attacks via ransomware.
As the go-to method of infiltrating a network and blocking access to troves of private data by hackers, more organizations are taking steps to prevent themselves from becoming the latest high-profile victim of a ransomware attack.
To that end, digital adversaries are turning to other means for successful cyberattacks. Jackware is one of them.
Relatively new in the world of hacking, jackware is something organizations of all types and sizes should have on their radar for cybersecurity and data protection.
Just like ransomware, jackware isn’t particular about its victims.
What Is Jackware?
A malicious software (aka malware), jackware is an evolved form of ransomware.
Unlike ransomware, which blocks access to a computer system until money (a ransom) is paid, jackware hijacks embedded computing devices within a machine to make it unusable. (Side note: embedded devices are microprocessor-based computer systems that are part of a much larger device that control specific functions). When comparing jackware vs. ransomware, both types of cyberattacks share one commonality: a device’s owner/user loses control until paying a fee to the perpetrator.
What’s vulnerable to a jackware attack? Any connected machine that has an embedded device, such as:
- Mobile phones
- Fitness trackers
- Medical devices
The nature of jackware, coupled with the critical or sensitive nature of many embedded devices, has led cybersecurity experts to say jackware is 10x more dangerous than ransomware.
A jackware attack can have serious or far-reaching consequences that go beyond preventing someone from making a phone call or tracking their steps each day. Machines with embedded devices that run public utility systems can be rendered inoperable. The same goes for computers and mobile devices used by thousands of businesses. Drivers of newer vehicles — which rely on smart technology to run — may be unable to open their doors or even hit the brakes.
Like a ransomware cyberattack on a computer system, successful jackware attacks leave the target dead in the water.
Cybersecurity for Jackware Attack Prevention
Stopping a jackware attack is similar to avoiding being held hostage by ransomware.
As with any other unwanted intrusion into a network, prevention is key. Put simply, if an adversary can’t access a system or device to begin with, their potential attack is short-lived.
Just as ransomware cyberattacks can be stopped by robust protection and user proficiency, so, too can jackware infiltrations. Standard ransomware defenses that also apply to a jackware attack prevention include:
- Staying up to date on the latest security threats and prevention methods
- Keeping security software on connected devices up to date
- Using a multilayered approach to cybersecurity with anti-virus, anti-spyware, and other endpoint threat-detection technologies
- Restricting user ability to install or modify applications and other software
- Training your organization’s staff to recognize hackers’ opening salvo in a ransomware attack, such as a phishing scam
- Routinely testing network and system security measures, and adjusting as necessary
While jackware attacks are rare, your cybersecurity provider — whether internal or outsourced — should absolutely have jackware prevention in mind when creating and maintaining your organization’s cyber defenses.
Meeting Jackware Attacks Head-On
Cyberattacks and the methods used to implement them are always evolving. Jackware is proof positive of this.
Though jackware isn’t taking center stage as the latest tool online adversaries are employing to take money, it’s a very real threat that could have more serious implications than blocked access to a computer.
Like preventing an attack with ransomware protection services, stopping hackers from using jackware against your organization means having the proper defenses in place long before they even try.
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