Enterprises, beware. Threat actors are continuing to eye businesses for high returns on investment in Q1 2019, breaching infrastructure, exfiltrating or holding data hostage, and abusing weak credentials for continued, targeted monitoring. From a steadfast increase of pervasive Trojans, such as Emotet, to a resurgence of ransomware lodged against corporate targets, cybercriminals are going after organizations with a vengeance.
Ransomware attacks on business targets have seen a substantial increase in the first quarter of 2019, up by 195 percent since the fourth quarter of 2018, according to a recent Malwarebytes report.
Malwarebytes researchers analyzed the combined statistics and intel collected from its intelligence, research, and data science teams between January 1 and March 31, 2019. They also leveraged telemetry from both consumer and business products on PC, Mac, and mobile devices.
Overall, they found that business detection of ransomware attacks increased by more than 500 percent from the same time frame in 2018 with 336,634 detections.
SMEs face the greatest risk from attacks as overall business detections have grown 235%
“Zero day attacks are on the rise and estimated to be a daily occurrence by 2021. This is largely down to digitisation within organisations and there’s more pressure on developers to deliver software faster – leaving systems vulnerable. This problem is exacerbated by hackers becoming more sophisticated, enabling them to bypass defences more easily.
“IT teams often prioritise stopping a breach occurring at all, but in today’s cyber climate a successful breach is inevitable. The most important aspect of cyber security is that businesses prepare for the worst and have effective data recovery and backup systems in place. Zero day recovery makes sure critical systems are down for as little time as possible. It’s often true that real damage from these breaches doesn’t come from the attack itself, but the resultant downtime after a breach – the time taken to become fully operational dictates the financial and operational fallout on a business.”
cryptomining seems to have gone the way of the dodo. Detections of consumer-focused Bitcoin miners have dropped significantly over the last year and even from last quarter, while business-focused miners have increased from the previous quarter, especially in the APAC region.
Adware in Macs and mobile devices was problematic.
While all Mac malware saw a more than 60 percent increase from Q4 2018 to Q1 2019, adware was particularly pervasive, clocking in at over 200 percent from the previous quarter. Mobile adware detections also trended upward, as supply chain attacks delivered malware pre-installed on mobile devices. However, overall adware detections were fewer in Q1 2019 than they were during the same time period last year.
Exploit authors developed some attention-grabbing techniques. A new Flash Player zero-day was discovered in Q1 and quickly implemented into popular exploit kits, including Underminer and Fallout EK, as well as a new exploit kit called Spelevor. In addition, a Chrome zeroday required users to take action, fully shutting down and restarting their browser in order to patch the vulnerability. Finally, the popular software WinRAR was being used to deliver payloads to users.
As attacks against businesses ramped up, user trust in businesses to protect their data reached a new low.
In a survey conducted by Malwarebytes in Q1 2019 of nearly 4,000 respondents, users expressed deep concerns about abuse, misuse, and theft of PII, especially from social media and search engine companies. In a new section of our Cybercrime Tactics and Techniques report, we examine how cybercriminals found success by exploiting infrastructure weaknesses, gaps in policy and regulation, and even corporate negligence to not only walk away with valuable data, but establish persistence within the network.
Businesses are still the prime target. Overall detections of threats to businesses have steadily risen, while consumer threats have dropped off. Business detections increased by about 7 percent from the previous quarter, while consumer detections declined by nearly 40 percent, resulting in an overall dip in malware volume of 35 percent quarter over quarter. Compared to Q1 2018, business detections have skyrocketed 235 percent, with consumer detections dropping 24 percent year over year. This reinforces the observed trend of cybercriminals focusing more on business targets today.
Emotet shows no signs of stopping. Emotet, the most fearsome and dangerous threat to businesses today, has made a total shift away from consumers, reinforcing the intent of its creators to focus on enterprise targets, except for a few outlier spikes. Detections of Trojans (Emotet’s parent category) on business endpoints increased more than 200 percent from the previous quarter, and almost 650 percent from the same time last year.
Ransomware is back to business.
Ransomware has made a tremendous comeback against business targets in Q1 2019, with an increase of 195 percent in detections from Q4 2018 to Q1 2019. In comparison to the same time last year, business detections of ransomware have seen an uptick of over 500 percent, thanks in large part to a massive attack by the Troldesh ransomware against US organizations in early Q1.
Consumer detections of ransomware died down. Meanwhile, ransomware consumer detections have continued to drop, despite activity by families such as GandCrab, which primarily targeted consumers over the last quarter as it switched to a ransomware-asa-service and began brute-forcing RDP to infiltrate systems. Consumer detections of ransomware decreased by 10 percent quarter over quarter, and by 33 percent year over year.