Attacks/Breaches

9/20/2017
04:15 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
Google+
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Mobile Ransomware Hits Browsers with Old-School Techniques

Several types of malware sold on the dark Web advertise the ability to spy on Android smartphones, encrypt files, and demand payment.

Mobile devices are not immune to ransomware. Researchers anticipate smartphones and tablets increasingly will be targeted as spying and information theft capabilities are becoming more widely available in the dark Web.

Researchers from SecureWorks' Counter Threat Unit (CTU) discovered 200 new ransomware variants last year, a 122% increase from the year prior. There is potential for mobile ransomware to become a significant threat, according to the firm's new 2017 State of Cybercrime Report.

CTU researchers found several types of malware for sale, some advertising the ability to spy on all functions of an Android phone as well as to encrypt files and demand payment, the hallmark of a ransomware attack. One malicious Android package kit (APK) file, containing a bot and ransomware, sells for about $1,000 USD on Russian-speaking forums.

Android devices are at greatest risk for users downloading applications that could potentially be malicious because users can access third-party markets (not Google Android's) where anyone can upload an app. 

"By virtue of Google's decision to make a semi-open ecosystem, it's inevitable they're going to be most at risk for these types of applications," says Keith Jarvis, senior security researcher with SecureWorks' CTU. That said, most mobile ransomware threats are browser-based and affect any device with a built-in browser, he adds.

Mobile ransomware geared toward individuals is a less targeted and smaller-value approach than ransomware targeting businesses - but it could also prove more effective. Individuals don't have the security knowledge and resources businesses have to defend against ransomware.

"What a lot of people are seeing on mobile is ransomware we saw before 2013 - for example, scareware and popups in the browser saying 'You've got a virus,'" Jarvis explains. "It locks the screen, encrypts files, demands payment."

Browser-based threats can't access many facilities on the devices, which is why attackers rely on old techniques like screen freezing. Researchers also saw an increase in SMS phishing, where threats arrive via text. Banking malware Exobot, for example, is a malware/spyware combination targeting Android with SMS messages containing malicious links.

With the rise of SMS phishing and advanced exploit kits, researchers expect there could be a rise of attacks focused on encrypting Android devices and leaving victims with no access to contacts, photos, or other personal information.

While mobile ransomware is a threat to the enterprise, Jarvis says organizations should continue to focus more on desktop-based ransomware. Most employees store business-critical data on their computers and until they begin to do the bulk of their work on smartphones and tablets, their desktops and laptops will be at greatest risk.

"That shift is going to have to happen," he notes. "Corporations will ask workers to be more mobile."

Threats in your inbox

It's expensive to develop exploits for Internet Explorer or Microsoft Edge. As a result, hackers are turning to social engineering and spam, which Jarvis describes as "the most economical way to reach potential victims.

"It's more about the behavioral aspect," he explains. "People are always tempted to double-click, to view something that comes through their email."

A related finding from the report is the growth of business email compromise (BEC) and business email spoofing (BES), which generated $5 billion USD in global losses between October 2013 and December 2016. In May 2017, the FBI stated victims' losses related to BEC and BES went up 2,370% between January 2015 and December 2016.

Both types of attacks have become more prolific as attackers look for ways to defraud increasingly security-savvy employees.

BEC attacks generated $5.3 billion in global losses between 2013 and 2017, Trend Micro researchers reported earlier this year. Attackers are turning to old BEC techniques, frequently spoofing the company's CEO and sending fake emails to heads of finance to request money.

Join Dark Reading LIVE for two days of practical cyber defense discussions. Learn from the industry’s most knowledgeable IT security experts. Check out the INsecurity agenda here.

Related Content:

Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
martin.george
50%
50%
martin.george,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/25/2017 | 11:15:32 AM
Cool
That is so cool written) I can't say something bad about your article 
samairakhan917
50%
50%
samairakhan917,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/20/2017 | 8:53:21 AM
Relationship
Glorious article, it was amazingly helpful! I just began in this and   I'm ending up more comfortable with it better! Cheers, keep doing astounding! 

 
Why CISOs Need a Security Reality Check
Joel Fulton, Chief Information Security Officer for Splunk,  6/13/2018
Cisco Talos Summit: Network Defenders Not Serious Enough About Attacks
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  6/13/2018
Four Faces of Fraud: Identity, 'Fake' Identity, Ransomware & Digital
David Shefter, Chief Technology Officer at Ziften Technologies,  6/14/2018
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2018-8030
PUBLISHED: 2018-06-20
A Denial of Service vulnerability was found in Apache Qpid Broker-J versions 7.0.0-7.0.4 when AMQP protocols 0-8, 0-9 or 0-91 are used to publish messages with size greater than allowed maximum message size limit (100MB by default). The broker crashes due to the defect. AMQP protocols 0-10 and 1.0 a...
CVE-2018-1117
PUBLISHED: 2018-06-20
ovirt-ansible-roles before version 1.0.6 has a vulnerability due to a missing no_log directive, resulting in the 'Add oVirt Provider to ManageIQ/CloudForms' playbook inadvertently disclosing admin passwords in the provisioning log. In an environment where logs are shared with other parties, this cou...
CVE-2018-11701
PUBLISHED: 2018-06-20
FastStone Image Viewer 6.2 has a User Mode Write AV at 0x005cb509, triggered when the user opens a malformed JPEG file that is mishandled by FSViewer.exe. Attackers could exploit this issue for DoS (Access Violation) or possibly unspecified other impact.
CVE-2018-11702
PUBLISHED: 2018-06-20
FastStone Image Viewer 6.2 has a User Mode Write AV at 0x00578cb3, triggered when the user opens a malformed JPEG file that is mishandled by FSViewer.exe. Attackers could exploit this issue for DoS (Access Violation) or possibly unspecified other impact.
CVE-2018-11703
PUBLISHED: 2018-06-20
FastStone Image Viewer 6.2 has a User Mode Write AV at 0x00402d6a, triggered when the user opens a malformed JPEG file that is mishandled by FSViewer.exe. Attackers could exploit this issue for DoS (Access Violation) or possibly unspecified other impact.