Cyber threat landscape: highly automated attacks and swarm technology becoming the norm
- Published: Friday, 01 December 2017 09:02
Fortinet has published its latest Global Threat Landscape Report. The research reveals that high botnet reoccurrence rates and an increase of automated malware demonstrate that cybercriminals are leveraging common exploits combined with automated attack methods at unprecedented speed and scale.
Highlights from the Global Threat Landscape Report include:
Severity of attacks creates urgency: 79 percent of businesses saw severe attacks in Q3 2017. Research data overall during the quarter quantified 5,973 unique exploit detections, 14,904 unique malware variants from 2,646 different malware families, and 245 unique botnets detected. In addition, Fortinet identified 185 zero-day vulnerabilities to date this year.
Botnet reoccurrence: many organizations experienced the same botnet infections multiple times. This is an alarming data point. Either the organizations did not thoroughly understand the total scope of the breach and the botnet went dormant only to return again after business operations went back to normal, or the root cause was never found and the organization was re-infected with the same malware.
Swarming vulnerabilities: the exact application exploit used by attackers to breach Equifax was the most prevalent with 6,000+ unique detections recorded last quarter, and it is once again the most prevalent this quarter. In fact, three exploits against the Apache Struts framework made the top ten list of most prevalent. This is an example of how attackers swarm when they catch scent of widespread, vulnerable targets.
Mobile threats: one in four firms detected mobile malware. Four mobile malware specific families stood out for the first time because of their prevalence. This is an indication that mobile is increasingly becoming a target and that the threats themselves are becoming automated and polymorphic. With holiday shopping season in full swing this trend is concerning as purchases from mobile devices will be frequent and IoT devices will be popular gifts to be purchased.
Pervasive and evasive malware: the most common functionality among top malware families was downloading, uploading, and dropping malware onto infected systems. This behavior helps slip malicious payloads through legacy defenses by wrapping them in dynamic packaging. In addition, malware strains that establish remote access connections, capture user input, and gather system information were common as well. These advanced techniques are becoming the norm recently and both data points demonstrate the increased intelligent and automated nature of malware today.
Ransomware is always there: after a hiatus during the first half of the year, the Locky ransomware ramped up in a big way with three new campaigns. Roughly 10 percent of firms reported it. In addition, at least 22 percent of organizations detected some type of ransomware during the quarter.
Cybercriminals target all sizes: midsize firms saw higher rates of botnet infections, demonstrating that they deal with more than their fair share of security problems. Cybercriminals potentially view midsize organizations as a ‘sweet spot’ because often they do not have the same level of security resources and technologies as large enterprises but are seen as having valuable data assets. At the same time, the attack surface for midsize firms is growing at a fast pace because of their cloud adoption rates.
SCADA is critical: in addition to high-volume attacks like those against Apache Struts, some threats fly below the radar or have severe consequences that spillover beyond the organization in which they occur. Among the exploits tracked that target various types of supervisory control and data access (SCADA) systems, only one crossed the 1/1,000 threshold of prevalence and none were observed by more than 1 percent of reporting firms. Unfortunately, enterprise network intrusions and outages are bad, but breaches into SCADA environments put the physical infrastructure on which many lives depend at risk, demonstrating the importance of this statistic.