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

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
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. 
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?
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
SOC 2s & Third-Party Assessments: How to Prevent Them from Being Used in a Data Breach Lawsuit
Beth Burgin Waller, Chair, Cybersecurity & Data Privacy Practice , Woods Rogers PLC,  12/5/2019
Navigating Security in the Cloud
Diya Jolly, Chief Product Officer, Okta,  12/4/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
Navigating the Deluge of Security Data
In this Tech Digest, Dark Reading shares the experiences of some top security practitioners as they navigate volumes of security data. We examine some examples of how enterprises can cull this data to find the clues they need.
Flash Poll
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Frustrated with recurring intrusions and breaches, cybersecurity professionals are questioning some of the industrys conventional wisdom. Heres a look at what theyre thinking about.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-19698
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-10
marc-q libwav through 2017-04-20 has a NULL pointer dereference in wav_content_read() at libwav.c.
CVE-2019-4428
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-09
IBM Watson Assistant for IBM Cloud Pak for Data 1.0.0 through 1.3.0 is vulnerable to cross-site scripting. This vulnerability allows users to embed arbitrary JavaScript code in the Web UI thus altering the intended functionality potentially leading to credentials disclosure within a trusted session....
CVE-2019-4611
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-09
IBM Planning Analytics 2.0 is vulnerable to cross-site scripting. This vulnerability allows users to embed arbitrary JavaScript code in the Web UI thus altering the intended functionality potentially leading to credentials disclosure within a trusted session. IBM X-Force ID: 168519.
CVE-2019-4612
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-09
IBM Planning Analytics 2.0 is vulnerable to malicious file upload in the My Account Portal. Attackers can make use of this weakness and upload malicious executable files into the system and it can be sent to victim for performing further attacks. IBM X-Force ID: 168523.
CVE-2019-4621
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-09
IBM DataPower Gateway 7.6.0.0-7 throug 6.0.14 and 2018.4.1.0 through 2018.4.1.5 have a default administrator account that is enabled if the IPMI LAN channel is enabled. A remote attacker could use this account to gain unauthorised access to the BMC. IBM X-Force ID: 168883.