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.

Attacks/Breaches

Worst Malware and Threat Actors of 2018

Two reports call out the most serious malware attacks and attackers of the year (so far).

What is the worst malware to rear its head in 2018? The year isn't quite over, but candidates for the role of "worst" have made themselves clear.

According to a new report issued by Webroot, among the worst are three large botnets. The list starts with Emotet, included because of its ability to spread laterally within a victim's network. Trickbot follows, both on the list and in the wild, adding capabilities (including the ability to carry ransomware payloads) to the ones introduced by Emotet. Zeus Panda is the third member of the botnet and banking Trojan trio, included because it employs a wide variety of distribution methods to infect its victims.

These botnets are, together, part of a major trend that has been building for some time, says Chris Doman, an AlienVault threat engineer. "One of the new, interesting trends is that the commercial malware people are looking toward open source and rentable malware because it makes them harder to trace and means that they can pay others to do development," he states. Malware-as-a-service puts malicious capabilities into the hands of those who may have very little technical sophistication, he adds.

AlienVault, an AT&T company, has released its own report that looks at the top threats and exploits seen in the first half of the year. It finds that malicious actors are broadening the horizons on which they attack and constantly shifting their approaches to evade detection and remediation.

Asked whether the overall news regarding malware is good or bad, Doman says, "The answer varies depending on which side you're looking at. Are there more threats out there and more exploitable vulnerabilities? Yes." At the same time, he says, "The defensive side is getting better. It doesn't get the attention because it's not as sexy as the hacking, but there are a lot of things today that are built in and we don't have to think about."

One of the areas AlienVault's research looked at is major threat actors; this year, Lazarus took the No. 1 spot from Fancy Bear as the most-reported. The top 10 malicious actors were distributed across the globe, launching threats from North Korea (two groups), Russia (three), Iran (two), China (two), and India (one). According to the Webroot report, those top malicious actors have been busy in both rentable malware networks and ransomware. Webroot identifies the three worst ransomware actors for 2018 as Crysis/Dharma, GandCrab, and SamSam.

According to the AlienVault report, one change from 2017 is the distribution of the top threats and vulnerabilities across platforms. Whereas 2017's top vulnerabilities were found almost exclusively in Microsoft Office and Adobe Flash, this year hackers have exploited vulnerabilities in Web application servers and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. That said, Microsoft Office still accounts for half the top 10, and Adobe Flash is still the home of the third vulnerability.

The malicious actors are increasingly turning from a near-exclusive focus on Microsoft and Adobe software to remote exploits of IoT and Web application platforms, such as Drupal, as they build cryptomining botnets to generate ready income and remain under the radar of law enforcement agencies.

Javvad Malik, security advocate at AlienVault, says that many of those technologically unsophisticated criminals have turned their hands to ransomware. "Because of the ease of deployment and the open system nature, [ransomware] can be deployed by people who aren't hardened criminals," Malik says. "It could pay for someone's college fees, and then the cultural issues come in, where the perpetrators don't see it as a real crime."

AlienVault's Doman says the Internet has, so far, avoided the mass wave of ransomware that marked 2017. "One thing that struck me is that last year we had things like WannaCry and BadRabbit — a few big worms that spread around causing chaos. They had ties to nation-states," he says. "This year we haven't had so much. There was Olympic Destroyer, but it was a one-off."

Despite the focus on bad actors and malware, one piece of good news is improved information sharing about malicious software is becoming standard practice in the security field, Malik says. "A lot of the improvements are down to the more open sharing nature of what we're doing," he says. "We're seeing a lot more independent researchers reaching out and sharing their data and research. I think that's a very good thing."

Related Content:

 

Black Hat Europe returns to London Dec 3-6 2018  with hands-on technical Trainings, cutting-edge Briefings, Arsenal open-source tool demonstrations, top-tier security solutions and service providers in the Business Hall. Click for information on the conference and to register.

Curtis Franklin Jr. is Senior Editor at Dark Reading. In this role he focuses on product and technology coverage for the publication. In addition he works on audio and video programming for Dark Reading and contributes to activities at Interop ITX, Black Hat, INsecurity, and ... View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
run3
50%
50%
run3,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/8/2018 | 11:40:48 PM
Re: Biggest Malware threat - none of the above
Thanks for your sharing, great article. I enjoyed reading this article.

asianfanfics
nelly.fr
50%
50%
nelly.fr,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/7/2018 | 3:15:28 PM
Re: Biggest Malware threat - none
Asked whether the overall news regarding malware is good or bad, Doman says, "The answer varies depending on which side you're looking at. Are there more threats out there and more exploitable vulnerabilities?
REISEN1955
50%
50%
REISEN1955,
User Rank: Ninja
11/5/2018 | 10:28:22 AM
Biggest Malware threat - none of the above
STUPIDITY OF MANAGEMENT.  How's that?  IGNORANCE second.  The idea that these threats can be, well, managed by existing IT staff and don't really pose a threat is the biggest danger of them all.  TRUST in the system -- well, never TRUST AUTHORITY was the old byword.  Still true.  C-Suite remains sitting with blinders on.  IT continues being outsourced.  So lack of control remains strong and no matter how sophisticated the invader may be, hell - easy to get beyond the walls so long as hey are UNGUARDED and insecure. 
Commentary
How SolarWinds Busted Up Our Assumptions About Code Signing
Dr. Jethro Beekman, Technical Director,  3/3/2021
News
'ObliqueRAT' Now Hides Behind Images on Compromised Websites
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer,  3/2/2021
News
Attackers Turn Struggling Software Projects Into Trojan Horses
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  2/26/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win an Amazon Gift Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: George has not accepted that the technology age has come to an end.
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
CVE-2021-26814
PUBLISHED: 2021-03-06
Wazuh API in Wazuh from 4.0.0 to 4.0.3 allows authenticated users to execute arbitrary code with administrative privileges via /manager/files URI. An authenticated user to the service may exploit incomplete input validation on the /manager/files API to inject arbitrary code within the API service sc...
CVE-2021-27581
PUBLISHED: 2021-03-05
The Blog module in Kentico CMS 5.5 R2 build 5.5.3996 allows SQL injection via the tagname parameter.
CVE-2021-28042
PUBLISHED: 2021-03-05
Deutsche Post Mailoptimizer 4.3 before 2020-11-09 allows Directory Traversal via a crafted ZIP archive to the Upload feature or the MO Connect component. This can lead to remote code execution.
CVE-2021-28041
PUBLISHED: 2021-03-05
ssh-agent in OpenSSH before 8.5 has a double free that may be relevant in a few less-common scenarios, such as unconstrained agent-socket access on a legacy operating system, or the forwarding of an agent to an attacker-controlled host.
CVE-2021-3377
PUBLISHED: 2021-03-05
The npm package ansi_up converts ANSI escape codes into HTML. In ansi_up v4, ANSI escape codes can be used to create HTML hyperlinks. Due to insufficient URL sanitization, this feature is affected by a cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability. This issue is fixed in v5.0.0.