What You Need to Know About Malware-as-a-Service

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is an increasingly popular cloud-based tool for delivering software solutions to users who need them. Instead of purchasing a single hard copy of an application, which would have once been delivered via floppy disc or CD-ROM or else downloaded from the developer’s website, SaaS allows users to access their software anywhere, anytime through the powers of the cloud. Usually, users sign up for a subscription to the software, which means recurring payments for continued access.

There are pros and cons to SaaS — and one of the more significant cons is the rise of Malware-as-a-Service (MaaS). Building off the innovation of SaaS, cybercriminals have created a new marketplace for malware, which threatens to radically increase the number of dangers using internet-connected devices. Read on to learn more about MaaS, including how you can stay safe from malware while enjoying the web.

MaaS Basics

Just as the software offered through SaaS platforms is hardly radically different from the software you might acquire as a download or via CD-ROM, the types of malware available through MaaS is the typical malware you might be familiar with through previous infections or general cybersecurity knowledge. For example, the malware usually available as MaaS include:

  • Viruses, which automatically spread from device to device and cause disruptions in operations like stealing data or altering device settings.
  • Trojans, which disguise themselves as legitimate software but launch attacks once installed
  • Adware, which spam devices with unwanted advertisements that can thwart functionality of the device
  • Ransomware, which hide or delete user files and demand some form of payment for their return
  • Spyware, which surreptitiously collect information about user behavior to assist with further attacks

The primary difference between regular malware and MaaS is how it is created and deployed. In the past, cybercriminals interested in launching malware attacks were responsible for creating their own malware applications, which requires significant knowledge and skill in programming. Thus, types of malware were limited not only to the number of individuals eager to engage in criminal activity but also those with coding experience.  

MaaS eliminates that second barrier for cybercrime. Today, anyone interested in perpetrating a cyber attack can use MaaS platforms to purchase an existing malware application and deploy it across the web as they see fit. As a result, the number of instances of malware on the internet has skyrocketed, and it has become much more dangerous for individual users and devices.

Avoiding MaaS

Because MaaS involves known types of malware, the methods of avoiding malware acquired through MaaS platforms remains the same as methods of avoiding regular, home-grown malware. The best tool for staying safe on the internet is and always will be premium online security suites, which boast a number of features designed to keep you as safe as possible as you access the web. Most cybersecurity solutions come with antivirus tools that identify and eliminate malware as soon as it attempts to infect a device; cybersecurity tools can also offer services like password management, mobile security and tech support to provide thorough protection to your devices and data.

Additionally, you need to be watchful for scams that can lead to malware infection, such as phishing messages on social media, in email inboxes and through SMS texts. You should also only download software from trustworthy websites with an established vetting process for eliminating corrupt apps.  

The Future of MaaS

Undoubtedly, MaaS will continue into the future, allowing low-level cybercriminals access to high-level tools for attack. Already, MaaS platforms are giving cybercriminals access to botnets, which are networks of infected devices that can be leveraged to launch larger attacks against more protected networks. In the coming years, MaaS marketplaces could help cybercriminals work together to develop more coordinated attacks that result in greater losses for individuals and companies alike.

The arms race between cybersecurity professionals and cybercriminals continues to intensify. Sophisticated technologies like artificial intelligence are almost certain to help cybercriminals develop new and more advanced programs for attacking devices and systems — but AI can also help cybersecurity firms develop stronger defenses. How MaaS will escalate the arms race, only time will tell.

the authorABHIYAN
Abhiyan Chhetri is a cybersecurity journalist with a passion for covering latest happenings in cyber security and tech world. In addition to being the founder of this website, Abhiyan is also into gaming, reading and investigative journalism.