Malicious software, or what’s more commonly known simply as malware, typically consists of one or more files — and it spreads through the distribution of these files. If malware files are intentionally or unintentionally downloaded to a computer, that computer will become infected with malware.

With that said, not all forms of malware rely on files to infect and wreak havoc on a victim’s computer. Known as fileless malware, it’s become a serious problem because of its ability to circumnavigate many existing cybersecurity measures.

The Basics of Fileless Malware

Fileless malware is a cyber threat that targets the trusted and legitimate processes of a computer’s operating system for malicious activities. Like other forms of malware, it’s designed to harm a business and/or its information technology (IT) infrastructure. Malware may restrict file access, create network congestion, steal sensitive data or create backdoors so that hackers can perform other cyber attacks against the business in the future.

Fileless malware, however, doesn’t consist of any executable files. Rather, it involves a cyber attack on trusted and legitimate processes associated with a computer’s operating system.

How Fileless Malware Works

Fileless malware simply refers to cyber attacks targeting a computer’s operating system processes. All operating systems have trusted and legitimate processes that run automatically. During a fileless malware attack, a hacker will target these processes with the goal of harming your business and/or IT infrastructure.

The Dangers of Fileless Malware

All forms of malware can be destructive, but fileless malware is particularly concerning because of its ability to avoid detection. Antivirus software, as well as other cybersecurity solutions, are often to designed to look for malicious executable files. Without any executable files, fileless malware often goes undetected.

Protecting Against Fileless Malware: What You Should Know

As a business owner, it’s important that you take steps to protect against fileless malware. Research shows that nearly half of all malware-related cyber attacks involve fileless malware. So, how can you protect your business’s IT infrastructure from fileless malware?

Because fileless malware targets operating system processes, you should keep your computers’ operating systems up to date. When a new version is released, don’t hesitate to download and install it. You can also protect against fileless malware by manually checking your computers and network for potential threats and vulnerabilities. If a hacker successfully breaches a computer or network, he or she will likely leave a digital footprint behind.