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.

Endpoint

5/29/2019
12:05 AM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
Google+
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Emotet Made Up 61% of Malicious Payloads in Q1

The botnet has displaced credential stealers, stand-alone downloaders, and RATs in the overall threat landscape.

Emotet, a form of malware previously classified as a banking Trojan but now considered a botnet, made up 61% of all payloads in the first quarter of 2019, Proofpoint researchers report.

The data comes from Proofpoint's "Q1 2019 Threat Report." Researchers who have been tracking Emotet's evolution say its popularity is reflected in the growth of attacks using malicious URLs. In the first quarter of 2019, emailed cyberattacks using bad links outnumbered those packing malicious attachments by five to one — up 180% from the first quarter of 2019, they report.

"The massive shift in Emotet's prevalence and classification highlights just how quickly cybercriminals are adapting new tools and techniques across attack types in search for the largest payday," says Sherrod DeGrippo, senior director of threat research and detection at Proofproint. Indeed, Emotet's operators added more capabilities earlier this year as they continued to build Emotet from a Trojan meant to lift banking data to a threat delivering data-stealing payloads.

Emotet frequently downloads additional modules for sending spam and downloading additional malware. This caused a change in classification, as well as increases in the volume of messages trying to install Emotet. As a result, researchers saw a significant change in the volume of messages by malware family: 61% of payloads were botnets, and all of them were Emotet. The threat is responsible for the inclusion of the "botnet" category in 2019, during which Emotet has displaced credential stealers, stand-alone downloaders, and remote access Trojans (RATs) in the threat landscape.

Volumes of downloaders, stealers, and RATs fell 11, 8, and 7 percentage points, respectively, as Emotet jumped 26%. The widely distributed threat is available in malware-as-a-service form, meaning attackers can use it to distribute malware and leverage a wide network of infected devices. Emotet has been seen delivering a range of secondary payloads, including banking Trojans, but it's not yet clear if this will have a broader impact on the malware market.

Banking Trojans made up 21% of malicious payloads in the first quarter of 2019, mostly driven by IcedID, The Trick, Qbot, and Ursnif. Emotet's shift away from banking caused the banking Trojan count to fall. Combined with Emotet, the two comprised 82% of email-borne malware.

Emotet's rise aside, researchers report the engineering, automotive, and education industries are most frequently targeted with email fraud. Across all industries, targeted businesses were hit with an average of 47 emailed attacks. While lower than record highs were seen in the fourth quarter of 2018, this could be a sign that attackers are becoming more selective. "Payment" was the top subject line in email fraud attacks, up 6 percentage points from the previous quarter.

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
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
RyanSepe
100%
0%
RyanSepe,
User Rank: Ninja
5/29/2019 | 10:21:26 AM
Interesting
I find its becoming more and more common that an initial payload is dropped and then modules assigned to it after the fact. I believe in that way it is helping malicious actors get their initial payload through because at landing it is seemingly non-malicious. Or at least less so than the end product.
For Cybersecurity to Be Proactive, Terrains Must Be Mapped
Craig Harber, Chief Technology Officer at Fidelis Cybersecurity,  10/8/2019
A Realistic Threat Model for the Masses
Lysa Myers, Security Researcher, ESET,  10/9/2019
USB Drive Security Still Lags
Dark Reading Staff 10/9/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
7 Threats & Disruptive Forces Changing the Face of Cybersecurity
This Dark Reading Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at the biggest emerging threats and disruptive forces that are changing the face of cybersecurity today.
Flash Poll
2019 Online Malware and Threats
2019 Online Malware and Threats
As cyberattacks become more frequent and more sophisticated, enterprise security teams are under unprecedented pressure to respond. Is your organization ready?
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-17545
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-14
GDAL through 3.0.1 has a poolDestroy double free in OGRExpatRealloc in ogr/ogr_expat.cpp when the 10MB threshold is exceeded.
CVE-2019-17546
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-14
tif_getimage.c in LibTIFF through 4.0.10, as used in GDAL through 3.0.1 and other products, has an integer overflow that potentially causes a heap-based buffer overflow via a crafted RGBA image, related to a "Negative-size-param" condition.
CVE-2019-17547
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-14
In ImageMagick before 7.0.8-62, TraceBezier in MagickCore/draw.c has a use-after-free.
CVE-2019-17501
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-14
Centreon 19.04 allows attackers to execute arbitrary OS commands via the Command Line field of main.php?p=60807&type=4 (aka the Configuration > Commands > Discovery screen).
CVE-2019-17539
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-14
In FFmpeg before 4.2, avcodec_open2 in libavcodec/utils.c allows a NULL pointer dereference and possibly unspecified other impact when there is no valid close function pointer.