Infostealer malware survival guide: Tips and tricks

March 25th · 8 min read

Rotem Tal - Senior Cybersecurity Expert |Writer & Editor|
Rotem Tal - Senior Cybersecurity Expert |Writer & Editor|

Infostealer malware: Digital spies

Imagine you're in a scene straight out of a spy movie, where the hero—let's call them 007—slips undetected into a high-security building. Their mission? To photograph top-secret documents and leave without a trace. This building, filled with guards and surveillance, doesn't even realize 007 is there until it's far too late.

That's exactly what unfolds in the digital world with infostealer malware, but instead of spy heroes, scammers stealthily swipe your information. An infostealer, as its name suggests, is malware whose entire purpose of existence is stealing information from a host. Scammers launch these digital malware agents via emails, text links, fake ads, and websites, and they’re all designed to blend into your daily browsing.

One wrong click, and just like that, an infostealer lands on your device. Then, it silently starts its mission: sifting through your personal information, capturing passwords, bank details, and more, then transmitting the loot back to the scammer. Your personal info, financial data, and sense of security vanish into thin air without you even realizing it.

61% of data breaches in 2023, involving over 343 million stolen credentials, were infostealer malware-related.

In this piece, we'll dive into the shadowy world of infostealers, exploring how they manage to sneak onto your devices and what kind of chaos they wreak once inside. But it's not all dark clouds on the horizon. We're also going to show you how malware prevention tools like Guardio, along with some savvy security practices, can keep your personal information safe and sound from these cybersecurity threats. Ready? Let’s go!
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Scammer coming out of a computer

What are infostealers?

An infostealer, or "stealer" for short, is a type of malware, often a Trojan virus, with one main goal: to snatch up sensitive info from any computer it can infiltrate. What kind of personal details? Let's break it down:

  • All those passwords you've got saved on your browsers? Fair game.

  • Your browsing cookies and search history? Yep, those too.

  • Credit card numbers and crypto wallets? Absolutely.

  • Even the nitty-gritty details about your computer, like its OS, hardware specs, and the software you've installed.

  • And let's not forget login credentials for everything from your bank and insurance accounts to your Gmail, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook (Meta), Amazon, and Twitter (X) profiles, just to mention a few.

Once the infostealer malware has got its hands on your data, it bundles it all up into what's known as a log, a digital collection packed with everything it's stolen.

How infostealer malware operates: Techniques and tactics

Alright, so all of this is pretty alarming, but you might be wondering, how do these infostealers actually make their way onto your device? It's easier than you think. Scammers are slick, and they're counting on just one slip-up to get their foot in your digital door. Here are some examples of how scammers unleash infostealers:

- Email attachments: Like that PDF labeled "Invoice" from a company you don't recognize.

- Phishing links: Disguised as an urgent message from your bank or other trusted business’ urging you to "click here immediately.”

- Fake ads: Those too-good-to-be-true offers popping up on your screen, hiding a malicious payload.

- Compromised websites: Even legitimate sites can be hacked to serve malware to unsuspecting visitors, not to mention fake ones that scammers create.

- Downloadable software: That free game or app from a site you've never heard of? It might come with unwelcome extras.

Once the infostealer lands on your device, it goes to work under the radar. Silently it digs through your files and online activities, copying every piece of valuable data it can find. One of the reasons it's so hard to spot these infostealers is because they work so quickly, land on your computer, steal the info and then it’s gone. Like a ghost, it's there, and then it's not, leaving behind no evidence of its presence—except for the trail of digital chaos it's destined to unleash. But how does your information make its way back to these schemers? The infostealer is craftily programmed to transmit your data directly to its creator, all while you remain blissfully unaware.

The aftermath of an infostealer malware attack

So, how do these digital thieves use your stolen info, and what's their endgame? After swiping your personal details into neatly packed logs, they're ready to spring into action. With your data in their clutches, they can effortlessly invade your digital life, gaining unauthorized access to your bank accounts, social media, emails, and more. Imagine your online cookie data as a universal key—infostealers simply clone it to unlock and enter your accounts without needing passwords. It's as though every digital door you own is unwittingly left open.

Cybercriminals trade your stolen info in the internet's dark corners, on forums and encrypted chat apps like Telegram, where they share their loot and strategize their next heists.

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How infostealer malware impacts businesses

While infostealer malware can turn your personal life upside down, it's an absolute nightmare when it targets your business. Here's a quick dive into the havoc it can wreak on your operations:

- Financial loss: Malware spells trouble for business operations, leading to downtime and lost productivity. Ransomware ups the ante by locking essential files and demanding a hefty ransom, putting businesses in a tight spot: pay up or lose your data forever.

- Identity theft and fraud: These digital invaders harvest personal info from employees or customers, setting the stage for identity theft and fraud. The fallout? Not just headaches for those affected, but a financial hit to your business.

- Disruption of business operations: Infostealer malware can bring your operations to a screeching halt, causing system crashes, dragging down network performance, and messing with your tech, making it tough for small businesses to keep the lights on and serve their customers.

- Loss of intellectual property: Your proprietary tech or groundbreaking ideas? Malware can snatch them up, eroding your competitive edge and drying up potential revenue streams.

- Regulatory compliance issues: A compromise of customer data can land you in hot water, facing legal repercussions and fines for not keeping sensitive info under wraps.

- Damage to customer trust: Small businesses thrive on trust and word-of-mouth. A breach can shatter that trust, leading to a drop in sales and customer loyalty.

- Cost of remediation: Digging yourself out of a malware mess isn't cheap. You're looking at shelling out for cybersecurity upgrades, forensic clean-ups, and maybe even legal battles.

- Business continuity challenges: Without a solid backup and disaster recovery plan, getting back on your feet post-attack can feel like an uphill battle for small businesses.

- Reputational damage: If word gets out that your business is an easy target for cyberattacks, convincing new customers to trust you can become a major challenge.

In short, while personal encounters with infostealer malware are bad enough for businesses, the stakes are significantly higher, threatening not just operational continuity but the very foundation of your enterprise. But here's the kicker: with the right cybersecurity software, like Guardio, these scenarios could be sidestepped. Plus, Guardio offers specialized cybersecurity solutions for businesses and teams, ensuring comprehensive protection tailored to your organization's unique needs. This brings us to our next section, where we'll dive into some handy tips and tricks to shield yourself from infostealer malware.

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How to prevent infostealer malware: Tools and strategies

So, how do you fight against those sneaky infostealers? Well, at the top of the list is wrapping your devices in the warm embrace of solid cybersecurity software that can defend you in a trio of ways:

  • It acts like your personal cyber bouncer, stopping infostealers dead in their tracks by recognizing either their infamous disguises or their sneaky behaviors.

  • It guides you away from the internet’s shadowy corners by blocking access to malicious sites, a common launch pad for digital maladies.

  • And let's not forget about the dangers lurking behind one wrong click on a deceptive ad or the turmoil that follows when your social media account gets hijacked. These traps are everywhere, but with the right protection, you can navigate safely without fear.

While we're on the topic of cyber safety, it's impossible not to highlight Guardio, a frontrunner in the battle for online protection. Here's why Guardio shines in the cybersecurity arena:

  • Blocks fake websites and dangerous links: Say goodbye to accidentally landing on harmful sites.

  • Malicious email alerts: Keeps those phishing scams out of your inbox.

  • Real-time data leak detection: Constantly checks if your info is making rounds on the dark web.

  • Account protection: Wraps your social media in an invisible armor, keeping hackers at bay and your digital life securely in your control.

  • Guardio for business and teams: Strengthens your organization's cyber defenses, ensuring your team's digital environment is safe and sound.

  • Covers up to 5 family members: One plan to protect your whole squad.

  • 7-day free trial: Give it a spin, risk-free. Love it? Great! Not for you? Cancel anytime.

Guardio security features steps up to offer comprehensive protection, ensuring your digital endeavors are secure, from checking your emails to scrolling through social media. The reality is, in today’s world, where cyber threats lurk behind every click, having Guardio is like having a digital bodyguard who’s always on duty.

So, why not take Guardio for a test drive? With its 7-day free trial, you’ve got nothing to lose. Experience firsthand how it can transform your digital security. If it clicks with your needs, you’re all set. If not, you can cancel anytime—no strings attached. In the fight against infostealers, Guardio is your frontline defense, keeping you and your family's digital life locked down and secure.

The bottom line

In the vast digital landscape where infostealer malware silently prowls, the potential for havoc and disruption looms large. These stealthy digital predators can infiltrate the most private corners of our online lives, causing significant problems, from personal data breaches to crippling financial losses for businesses. The danger they represent is real and ever-present, challenging us to harden our digital domains. Amidst this backdrop of cyber threats, Guardio emerges as a beacon offering a robust line of defense. Guardio security features help people navigate the digital world with confidence, transforming the fear of potential chaos into a sense of secure calm. With Guardio, the journey through the internet's unpredictable waters becomes safer, ensuring our digital experiences remain positive and protected.

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