Demystifying a Common Cybersecurity Myth

Mar 13, 2024The Hacker NewsApp Security / Cyber Security

Demystifying a Common Cybersecurity Myth

One of the most common misconceptions in file upload cybersecurity is that certain tools are “enough” on their own—this is simply not the case. In our latest whitepaper OPSWAT CEO and Founder, Benny Czarny, takes a comprehensive look at what it takes to prevent malware threats in today’s ever-evolving file upload security landscape, and a big part of that is understanding where the pitfalls are, and how to avoid them.

The first step in that process is understanding that three commonly used tools or solutions are not enough on their own. Let’s explore this concept and take a closer look at a better solution.

Understanding the Challenge

Modern web applications are complex, utilizing internet-connected IT systems that interface with critical OT systems, as well as leveraging a wide range of cloud providers and protocols. All these systems transfer and store highly sensitive and valuable data across government, healthcare, power, financial, and other critical sectors the world over, carrying with them threats capable of causing severe damage.

Securing file uploads to detect and prevent malware infiltration is critical. As this threat vector grows and the attack surface spreads, ensuring that these sectors remain secure becomes of the utmost importance. This is why building—and enforcing—a reliable and proven security strategy is paramount moving forward.

Tools of the Trade

One tool on its own is simply not enough. Here are three commonly used tools that, when used on their own to secure file uploads, do not offer adequate protection and why that is the case:

1. Anti-Malware File Scanning

Everyone is familiar with anti-malware, but not all anti-malware engines—or scanning modes—are created equal. It’s intriguing that there is still so much confusion over the efficacy rates when it comes to the “always-on” real-time protection that’s monitoring an entire system versus, say, static file scanning strategies that need to be run manually or scheduled. Real-time scanning can exhibit nearly 100% efficacy rates, while in contrast, static scanning is noticeably lower with rates that range between 6-76%. To avoid a false sense of security, organizations must know exactly what they are getting with each deployment mode.

2. Web Application Firewalls

Many experts believe that by installing a web application firewall (WAF) they are protected against malicious file uploads. The reality is that it is very much not the case, as web application firewalls primarily protect against attacks at the application layer (OSI Layer 7). They do not have a specific design to prevent malware infections that may target other layers or spread through different channels, such as email attachments or removable media. Additionally, they struggle with encrypted traffic (like https) and typically rely on a single anti-malware solution for threat detection.

3. Sandboxing

Sandboxing is a technique that was originally used to analyze malware by isolating and executing suspicious files in a controlled environment to understand their behavior and detect potential signs of malware. Alone, sandboxes face limitations such as weakness to advanced and time-based evasion techniques that obfuscate or delay malicious activities and environment-specific triggers in adaptive malware. They are resource-intensive, prone to false positives and negatives, and offer limited coverage specific to file-based malware.

Defense-in-Depth Cybersecurity

So, if you can’t rely on these methods alone, what is the answer? This is one of the spaces OPSWAT has spent the last 20 years innovating in. Our MetaDefender Platform layers in market-leading and globally trusted technologies to form an easy to deploy, integrated-by-design, defense-in-depth cybersecurity strategy for securing file uploads.

Multiscanning: Utilize over 30 of the world’s best antivirus engines to detect nearly 100% of threats


As the effectiveness of single anti-malware solutions for static analysis varies anywhere from 6% to 76%, we decided to integrate multiple commercially available ones into our solution and benefit from their combined power. With more than 30 leading anti-malware engines working simultaneously, our efficacy rates are just shy of 100% while being optimized for speed.

Deep Content Disarm and Reconstruction: Sanitize, block, and remove file objects and regenerate a safe copy

Deep Content Disarm and Reconstruction (Deep CDR)

To further bolster our defenses, we pioneered a unique methodology, referred to as Deep Content Disarm and Reconstruction (Deep CDR). Awarded a AAA, 100% Protection rating from SE Labs, our unique technology provides comprehensive prevention-based security for file uploads by neutralizing potential threats before they can cause harm. It evaluates and verifies the file type and consistency and validates file extensions to prevent masquerading and alerts organizations if they are under attack. Then it separates files into discrete components and removes potentially harmful objects and rebuilds usable files, reconstructing metadata, preserving all file characteristics.

Proactive Data Loss Prevention: Reduce alert fatigue by redacting sensitive data

Proactive Data Loss Prevention (Proactive DLP)

OPSWAT’s Proactive Data Loss Prevention (DLP) module was developed specifically to address the growing concerns of compliance and regulation, data leakage and risks associated with file uploads. Our solution detects and protects sensitive information within various file types, including text, image, and video-based patterns.

Adaptive Sandbox: Adaptive threat analysis technology enables zero-day malware detection and extracts more indicators of compromise.

Real-Time Adaptive Sandbox

To overcome the limitations of traditional sandboxing, OPSWAT developed a unique emulation-based sandbox with adaptive threat analysis. By pairing it with our Multiscanning and Deep CDR technologies it provides a comprehensive multi-layered approach to malware detection and prevention. Our emulation-based approach can swiftly de-obfuscate and dissect even the most complex, state-of-the-art, and environment-aware malware in under 15 seconds.

What’s Next?

These are only some of the technologies that power the MetaDefender Platform. Like the modules detailed in this article, there are more that are purpose-built to meet the varied use-cases and needs of critical infrastructure protection. Like the threat landscape around us, we are driving innovation forward to step up and stay ahead of the latest threats.

We encourage you to read the whole whitepaper here, and when you’re ready to discover why OPSWAT is the critical advantage in file upload cybersecurity, talk to one of our experts for a free demo.

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