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Larry Loeb
Larry Loeb
Larry Loeb

Enterprise Attacks Increase 235%: Trojans & Ransomware Most Common

The Malwarebytes Labs Cybercrime Tactics and Techniques Q1 2019 report found in just one year, threats aimed at corporate targets have increased by 235%. Trojans, such as Emotet, and ransomware were the most likely attacks.

The enterprise looks like a piggybank for cyber criminals these days. The Malwarebytes Labs Cybercrime Tactics and Techniques Q1 2019 report (PDF) found in just one year, threats aimed at corporate targets have increased by 235%. Trojans, such as Emotet, and ransomware were the most likely attacks.

The report found that overall detection of threats to businesses increased by 7% over the previous quarter.

Emotet was found to shift almost completely away from consumers to enterprise targets. Detections of Trojans on business endpoints spiked more than 200% from the previous quarter, and nearly 650% year over year. The Troldesh ransomware also made huge inroads against US organizations in early Q1, the report noted.

Malwarebytes found that the most vulnerable business targets were those of small and medium size (SMBs). They seem to be battling the same number of threats but with the fraction of the security budget of a large enterprise corporation.

There was a good aspect not all of this, however. Ransomware directed at consumers decreased 33% from last year.

The same change seemed to be happening in cryptomining. Consumer attacks decreased, while business attacks increased. The decrease may be related to the implosion of the consumer-directed Coinhive crypto mining during the time period, although the decline in detections matches with the decline in value of cryptocurrency, as it did back in 2018.

But things were more complex than just these two categories. No one specific category of malware was responsible for the drop in consumer detections, since the report observed declines in detections of nearly all of the top ten malware types in the quarter. This includes a significant decrease of over 60% by Trojan and backdoor categories.

"Consumers might breathe a sigh of relief seeing that malware targeting them has dropped by nearly 40%, but that would be short-sighted," Adam Kujawa, director of Malwarebytes Labs said in a prepared statement to Security Now. "Consumer data is more easily available in bulk from business targets, who saw a staggering 235% increase in detections year-over-year. Cyber criminals are using increasingly clever means of attack to get even more value from targets through the use of sophisticated Trojans, adware and ransomware."

There were changes in the attack platforms as well. Mac malware saw a more than 60% increase from Q4 2018 to Q1 2019. Along with that increase, adware grew massively; coming in at an over 200% increase from the previous quarter. The report noted that Mac malware and adware was showing an increasing trend toward using open-source Python code.

Some older trends continued. A new Flash Player zero-day was discovered in Q1 and quickly implemented into popular exploit kits, such as Underminer and Fallout EK. It also appeared in a new exploit kit called Spelevor.

Geographic considerations were important as well. The US leads in global threat detections at 4%, followed by Indonesia with 9% and Brazil with 8%.

The report thinks that cyber criminals will continue to beat the corporate drum until another easier or more pro table technique comes along. In the meantime, businesses need to work on shoring up perimeters, tightening access permissions, and establishing better privacy policies for storing and transmitting data safely for the sake of their customers' well-being -- and their own.

— Larry Loeb has written for many of the last century's major "dead tree" computer magazines, having been, among other things, a consulting editor for BYTE magazine and senior editor for the launch of WebWeek.

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