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
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
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Oldest First  |  Newest 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.
Manchester United Suffers Cyberattack
Dark Reading Staff 11/23/2020
As 'Anywhere Work' Evolves, Security Will Be Key Challenge
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  11/23/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win an Amazon Gift Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
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
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-29144
PUBLISHED: 2020-11-27
In Ericsson BSCS iX R18 Billing & Rating iX R18, MX is a web base module in BSCS iX that is vulnerable to stored XSS via an Alert Dashboard comment. In most test cases, session hijacking was also possible by utilizing the XSS vulnerability. This potentially allows for full account takeover, or e...
CVE-2020-29145
PUBLISHED: 2020-11-27
In Ericsson BSCS iX R18 Billing & Rating iX R18, ADMX is a web base module in BSCS iX that is vulnerable to stored XSS via the name or description field to a solutionUnitServlet?SuName=UserReferenceDataSU Access Rights Group. In most test cases, session hijacking was also possible by utilizing t...
CVE-2020-29136
PUBLISHED: 2020-11-27
In cPanel before 90.0.17, 2FA can be bypassed via a brute-force approach (SEC-575).
CVE-2020-29137
PUBLISHED: 2020-11-27
cPanel before 90.0.17 allows self-XSS via the WHM Transfer Tool interface (SEC-577).
CVE-2020-29135
PUBLISHED: 2020-11-27
cPanel before 90.0.17 has multiple instances of URL parameter injection (SEC-567).