The Rising Threat of Emotet - What You Need To Know

The Rising Threat of Emotet

Emotet is a cybercrime operation that was first detected in 2014. It is generally regarded as one of the biggest and most dangerous cyber threats of the decade; through various iterations and developments, it successfully established a global infrastructure, using spam emails to spread malware and steal banking credentials from individuals, businesses, and government entities across the world.

In January 2021, an international effort was coordinated to dismantle Emotet, which appeared to be successful. However, in November 2021, new Emototet samples were discovered with a similar code to its previous iterations, but with an upgraded encryption scheme.

Emototet is back, and it is showing no signs of slowing down. On February 15, 2022, it was reported that over 2.7 million cases had been detected globally. It’s bad news, but the situation is not entirely hopeless. Here’s everything you need to know about Emotet, and what can be done to give you and your business the best possible protection against it.

What is Emotet

Emotet is a strain of malware that is primarily spread through spam emails. It was originally designed to steal bank account details by intercepting internet traffic, but it has since gone through a number of iterations and upgrades, adopting new techniques to infiltrate networks and avoid detection.

An Emotet email typically uses familiar branding designed to look legitimate, along with persuasive language such as ‘Your invoice’, ‘Overdue Invoice’ or ‘Payment Details’ that tempts the recipient to open attachments and click links. Once opened, the attachment triggers a macro that infects the user’s device with malware.

Through a brute-force method of password guessing, Emotet also has the ability to breach your account and then ransack your contact lists, sending itself to your friends, family, co-workers and clients. Since the emails are coming from your account, recipients feel more comfortable opening attachments and clicking URLs, thus allowing malware to be installed on their device.

Emotet’s aim is to extort money from its victims, steal credentials, or sell access to other cybercriminals.

The Rising Threat of Emotet - Malware Hack

Who does Emotet target?

Much like a non-cyber virus, Emotet doesn’t discriminate. To date, it has targeted individuals, companies, banks, universities, hospitals, courts, and government entities across the world.

In the early days, it mainly targeted companies and organisations, but as time has gone on it has targeted more and more private individuals.

Both Microsoft and Apple devices are vulnerable to an Emotet attack. Basically, any device that has access to email.

How can I protect myself from Emotet?

Simply knowing about Emotet is perhaps your best line of defence against it. Be wary of any email that appears slightly suspicious, especially if those emails contain links or attachments. Emotet can’t get a foothold on your system as long as you avoid the content of those suspect emails.

You should also aim to keep your devices updated with the latest patches, be it for Microsoft Windows or Apple. Emotet largely relies on the Windows EternalBlue vulnerability to do its dirty work, so regularly patching that vulnerability will make it more difficult for the malware to get through.

Use strong passwords. Emotet’s password guessing trick works by trawling through lists of common and obvious passwords, such as ‘password123’. If your password is too obvious, there is a very high chance that Emotet will find its way into your account, so create a password with character-variety that is unique. It’s also a good idea to start using two-factor authentication.

Get some high-quality, multi-layered antivirus. The best products are constantly updated and are able to detect and block Emotet in real-time.

How can I remove Emotet?

If you know or suspect you’ve already been infected by Emotet, don’t panic. There are a couple of things you can do right now which should stop Emotet in its tracks before it does too much damage.

Firstly, if your computer is connected to a network, you will need to isolate it immediately. Then you can proceed to patch and clean your system, which should get rid of the Emotet malware. But here’s the rub: your computer can become reinfected the moment it is plugged into an infected network. That means you’ll need to clean and patch each computer on your network one at a time.

As you can imagine, this can be a very tedious and time-consuming process. There is a far easier way, and that is to get in touch with the experts.

At Liberate IT, we have the resources and knowledge to rescue you from an Emotet infection. We can also implement measures to prevent you or your business from being subject to Emotet in the future. With the threat continuously rising at the moment, the importance of these measures cannot be overstated.

If you have any questions or are interested in getting the best possible protection against Emotet, get in touch today – we’re happy to help!

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