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Adware & Cryptomining Remain Top Enterprise Security Threats

New research from Morphisec Labs finds that adware remains a consistent if under-reported security problem for many enterprises. At the same time, cryptomining remains the go-to attack for many cybercriminals.

Larry Loeb

June 25, 2018

3 Min Read

Security vendor Morphisec Labs is out with a new report that looks at the cybersecurity landscape for the first quarter of this year, and is based on anonymized threat data from the company's 750,000 endpoint agents scattered throughout the world.

The report contains technical details on specific attack techniques and tactics used, as well as a set of threat analyses of the most critical threats to enterprise organizations.

There are five key findings:

  • In all the attacks that were prevented by Morphisec in the first quarter of 2018, including adware, at least one fileless technique was used. In looking at non-adware attacks, approximately 36% were pure fileless. Researchers found that adware remains a widespread, but "under-the-radar nuisance," comprising over half of prevented attacks. These adware strains employ sophisticated reflective injection of ad material directly into the memory of the process, bypassing antivirus blocks.

  • Researchers found that there has been a significant uptick in banking Trojan attacks, representing over one-third of all non-adware attacks in the first quarter, with Emotet the top banking malware.

  • (Source: iStock)

  • (Source: iStock)

  • The company also found that the first quarter saw a decrease in ransomware attacks -- which fits in well with observations made by other security vendors -- but that ransomware continues to be a significant threat to organizations. New strains are constantly emerging, with some such as GandCrab and SamSam, incorporating fairly sophisticated evasive techniques. (See WannaCry: How the Notorious Worm Changed Ransomware.)

  • Malware authors are increasingly adding coin mining features to their attacks, even if cryptomining is not the primary goal. Payload delivery methods have become more sophisticated, with CryptoNight the most widely used mining algorithm.

  • While admitting that threat attribution can be difficult, the researchers note that North Korea has clearly become a major threat player. In addition to the RokRAT and Flash Player (CVE-2018-4878) zero-day attacks, various other attacks have been linked to the North Korean government and its affiliates.

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Michael Gorelik, CTO and Head of Threat Research at Morphisec, wrote in the report:

"We also found ample evidence that the cyberattack pipeline is getting more efficient and faster. Sophisticated attack technology moves quickly from nation-states to cyber-criminal groups and filters down to mass-market exploit kits in a matter of days. Nation-states spend the resources finding zero-days and/or developing new attack techniques to exploit them. The more tech-savvy cybercrime groups reverse-engineer patches or use published analyses to develop their own exploits. From there it's only a small step to adding the vulnerability to exploit kits for use by the mass criminal market. February's critical Adobe Flash vulnerability migrated from political zero-day attack to malspam campaign to exploit kit distribution before the month was out."

The report highlights how malware continues to evolve, with threat actors feeding off each other's activities and methods to end up creating potent attacks on organizations.

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— 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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About the Author(s)

Larry Loeb

Blogger, Informationweek

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. He has written a book on the Secure Electronic Transaction Internet protocol. His latest book has the commercially obligatory title of Hack Proofing XML. He's been online since uucp "bang" addressing (where the world existed relative to !decvax), serving as editor of the Macintosh Exchange on BIX and the VARBusiness Exchange. His first Mac had 128 KB of memory, which was a big step up from his first 1130, which had 4 KB, as did his first 1401. You can e-mail him at [email protected].

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