Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


04:45 PM
Connect Directly

As Malware Surges, U.S. Remains Biggest Source of Attacks

The country leads others in malicious IP, URLs and phishing sites.

Contrary to popular perception, a majority of the cyber attacks on U.S. companies continue to originate from inside the country rather than outside it.

 For all the attention placed on state-sponsored actors and cybercrime gangs in Russia, China and East Europe, nearly a third of the IP addresses associated with malicious activity and 48 percent of malicious URLs are U.S.-based a report from security vendor Webroot shows. Over 75 percent of all phishing sites are hosted on servers inside the country, the report noted.

The Webroot report is based on an analysis of information gathered by the company’s BrightCloud threat intelligence service. It showed that malware and the infrastructure for hosting and distributing it, is growing dramatically fast.

On average, there are a staggering 12 million malicious IP addresses operating on the Internet on any give day with 85,000 new addresses being launched daily. While the IP addresses come from all over the world, over 30 percent of them are from the U.S. followed by China with 23 percent and Russia with 10 percent.

 When Webroot looked at where malicious URLs are located, Russia and China were barely on the list while the U.S. topped with France in a distance second place.

 “The United States is the number one source of attacks, number one in terms of attack victims and number one in terms of attackers,” said Mike Malloy, executive vice president of products and strategy at Webroot.

 One reason why so many malicious URLs are located in the U.S. could simply be that malicious attackers know that URLs in high-risk countries are automatically blocked by geo-filtering services, he said.

 “An example of such a service is an enterprise network that is configured to reject all connection attempts involving URLs from a high-risk country,” Webroot said in its report.  “This underscores the importance of having URL reputation data independent of classification, as filtering purely by IPs may not be enough to keep networks and users secure,” the company noted.

 The data on attack origins is not the only surprise in the Webroot report. What it also showed is that technology companies are targeted far more often in phishing attacks than financial services companies.  On average there were nearly 9,000 phishing attempts detected per technology firm in 2014 compared to just 900 attempts for financial services companies.

The top five companies impersonated by phishing sites in 2014 were Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Apple and Dropbox. The reason why phishers have gravitated towards such sites is pretty simple, Malloy says.

“The credentials to these sites are often the master password to a bunch of other applications,” Malloy said. “There are a lot of applications that ask whether you want to log in with your Facebook ID or you Google ID,” he said. By gaining access to the usernames and passwords to these sites, phishers often can unlock numerous other accounts as well, he said.

Somewhat less surprisingly, Webroot research also showed that Internet users are under growing siege from a variety of malware threats. In Dec 2014, the company noted an over 50 percent increase in phishing activity most likely as a result of the holiday season. The company determined that the average Internet user has a 30 percent chance that he or she will fall victim to a phishing attack involving a zero-day threat for which no remediation is available.

Meanwhile, the number of trustworthy mobile applications fell from 52 percent of all applications in 2013 to 28 percent in 2014. About 50 percent were moderately trustworthy or suspicious while the remaineder were outright malicious or unwanted. The data shows that threats are extremely dynamic in nature and that IP address blacklists need to be updated constantly to keep up with new attacks and attackers, Webroot said.

About 3.4 percent of the files that Webroot inspected on behalf of its customers in 2014 were malicious while another 12 percent were what the companies classifies as potentially unwanted applications such as adware and spyware. If the trend continues, the last two years alone will account for nearly half of all malware ever discovered since security researchers started tacking the back in the late 1980s, Malloy said.

Jai Vijayan is a seasoned technology reporter with over 20 years of experience in IT trade journalism. He was most recently a Senior Editor at Computerworld, where he covered information security and data privacy issues for the publication. Over the course of his 20-year ... View Full Bio

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
stallion m
stallion m,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/4/2015 | 12:55:08 AM
Re: 100% true
Yes the modern world uses the hacking and spamming are the main weapon, the largest countries like usa, china, india all add moe concentration in security issues, i think usa develop more security sheals on their systems 
User Rank: Apprentice
4/29/2015 | 5:56:22 AM
100% true
The information provided here is 100% true
Some Guy
Some Guy,
User Rank: Moderator
4/27/2015 | 1:11:41 PM
Useless Statistic of the Day
This is a function of the hosting/spam market, and is completely orthogonal to who is perpertraing the attacks.


About as useful as saying the majority of bank robbery getaway vehicles are from GM -- nothing to do with cause and effect, and everything to do with the distribution of cars by manufacturer. Or how about that 99.9% of people die in bed. Should we go after beds to eliminate deaths?

"10 points for style, minus several million for good thinking." -- Zaphod Beeblebrox
Shabby Chic
Shabby Chic,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/27/2015 | 9:29:46 AM
Not a surprise... Us is also a country with a lot of security business
User Rank: Ninja
4/27/2015 | 7:08:33 AM
I think a lot of the reason the rest of the world gets painted as the worst when it comes to hacking, is because a lot of security companies originate from the US. There almost seems to be a patriotic slant appearing in the security community, with the likes of Kaspersky pointing out US threats and US companies pointing out Russian and Chinese attacks. 
Joe Stanganelli
Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
4/26/2015 | 11:59:14 PM
Domestic vs. foreign
I suppose this isn't that much of a surprise...and, in a way, it's actually a bit of encouraging news because it suggests that the cyberwar epidemic isn't quite so terrible.

I wonder what the stats are in other countries in terms of how many cyberattacks are domestic vs. foreign...
User Rank: Apprentice
4/26/2015 | 9:04:09 AM
Re: No Surprise - Or is it?
How ironic that in order to reply to a story that denigrates the use of social-media login portals such as fecebook, twitter, google, etc, that I am given the option to use those same services to log into the darkreading server.

As I am one of the few non-juvenille people using the web that does not (and has never) used fecebook and the like (my HOSTS file is full of them and their related ilk) I used a throw-away email service to register to comment on this story.

My comment being that when I get a link in spam email purporting to be from my ISP, or my bank, or some other entity that plausibly could have and therefore request that I update my various personal information (name / dob / credit card info, etc), I fill every comment field with the most vile and pejorative statements you can imagine about russians and putin (along with phrases such as "free Ukraine" and "get your military out of the Ukraine").  If the fake form that I'm filling out requires a valid credit card number to be entered before it is accepted, that's easily done by consulting one of many on-line number-generating sites.

What this article doesn't mention is that even if the majority of IP's that are port-scanning you or sending your American or Canadian organization direct-to-mx spam are located in US/Canada, they are invariably controlled by russian hackers.

Something that I do in my company is to be ultra acressive when it comes to blocking IP's trying to deliver mail to our SMTP server.  I'm blocking upwards of 75% of the entire IPv4 address space, including about 80 "A" classes.    I have the ability to consult our entire email logs going back to 1998, tease out all the IP's that have ever delivered "good" mail to us and make sure I'm not blocking those going forward.  It's an incredibly effective way to block spam.
User Rank: Ninja
4/26/2015 | 8:01:45 AM
No Surprise - Or is it?
Such blanket numbers without drill-down clarification of what each IP's designation as malicious really means aren't necessarily helpful outside of scaring consumers and businesses into purchasing information security products.

Additionally, held within those numbers are likely members who do actually originate from outside the US.  

This isn't to say the information isn't useful, but it's just not as useful as it could be, meaning that detailed breakdowns are needed, separation of the "malicious ecosystem' is required for the data to truly have a wider range of impact on its readers, all distinctions illustrated clearly between hobbyist criminals and serious cyber espionage actors, etc.

Personally, I've never been a fan of OpenID and similar, and this report in some ways reinforces my belief that those who use apps like WordPress, Facebook, etc. for accessing multiple sites for the sake of convenience are asking to be compromised. 

I read the threat brief in full on the Webroot website and I'd like to see the deep data, that which is more meaningful to the InfoSec community rather than the high-level glitz that would resonate only with end-users and procurement staff for corporations looking for a reason to spend money on cybersecurity initiatives.
Inside the Ransomware Campaigns Targeting Exchange Servers
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  4/2/2021
Beyond MITRE ATT&CK: The Case for a New Cyber Kill Chain
Rik Turner, Principal Analyst, Infrastructure Solutions, Omdia,  3/30/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-10
Valve Steam through 2021-04-10, when a Source engine game is installed, allows remote authenticated users to execute arbitrary code because of a buffer overflow that occurs for a Steam invite after one click.
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-10
A command execution vulnerability in SonicWall GMS 9.3 allows a remote unauthenticated attacker to locally escalate privilege to root.
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-09
Zoom Chat through 2021-04-09 on Windows and macOS allows certain remote authenticated attackers to execute arbitrary code without user interaction. An attacker must be within the same organization, or an external party who has been accepted as a contact. NOTE: this is specific to the Zoom Chat softw...
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-09
Use after free in screen sharing in Google Chrome prior to 89.0.4389.114 allowed a remote attacker to potentially exploit heap corruption via a crafted HTML page.
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-09
Use after free in V8 in Google Chrome prior to 89.0.4389.114 allowed a remote attacker to potentially exploit heap corruption via a crafted HTML page.