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.

Threat Intelligence

9/25/2019
11:15 AM
50%
50%

Web Attacks Focus on SQL Injection, Malware on Credentials

Attackers continue to focus on bread-and-butter tactics, according to a quarterly threat report.

Attackers continued to stick to a well-known playbook for the second quarter of 2019, focusing on attacking websites using SQL injection attacks and stealing passwords and credentials via malware and phishing attacks, according to the latest quarterly threat report from security firm WatchGuard. 

While the company saw a slight decline in many threat metrics — with antivirus detections declining 6% between quarters and more sophisticated threats declining 2% — each of the top 10 network attacks on WatchGuard's list increased in volume, with the frequency of the top attack, SQL injection, jumping by a factor of 12. Overall, the two types of SQL injection attacks included on the list counted for more than a third of all network attacks detected by the firm's devices. 

Only two of the other top 10 attacks — exploits focused on vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash and Shockwave — were not Web-based threats, the report found.

"The top network attacks have remained Web-based attacks for many, many quarters — either a direct vulnerability in Web server software; a Web-client attack, where it is a drive-by download that affects the client; or a Web-application attack on a vulnerability in either a framework that you installed or in your custom code," says Corey Nachreiner, chief technology officer at WatchGuard.

In addition to focusing on attacking Web applications, attackers aimed to harvest credentials from compromised machines and users. The top threat, Mimikatz, is an open source tool originally created in 2014 as a project to learn coding but whose purpose is to harvest several different types of credentials, including plain-text password, hashes, kerberos tickets, and PIN codes.

In addition, a phishing attack that aims to harvest users' credentials also made the top 10 threat list. "The trend of authentication being a target, while not a new one this quarter, remains big," Nachreiner says.

WatchGuard's report is not the first to note the all-out assault that online attackers are waging on user and administrator credentials. Earlier this year, security firms Trend Micro and Rapid7 noted that phishing attacks and credential-stuffing attacks had both taken off. In April, Akamai also reported that it had detected some 30 billion attempts to login to services using the wrong credentials.

"It is a constant problem," said Martin McKeay, a security researcher and editorial director at Akamai, at the time.

Three of WatchGuard's top 10 malware detections by volume were also the most widespread, affecting a large share of WatchGuard customers rather than just inundating a few customers with a deluge of attacks, Nachreiner says.

"When we started do this, there was not much overlap between the lists," he says. "The fact that three of the most widespread piece of malware were also on the top 10 list is interesting — and when something is both widespread and high-volume, that should give you some pause. The trend of authentication being a target, while not a new one this quarter, remains big."

The top of the detection list is Mimikatz, which does not show up on the widespread list. 

"The credential-theft tool Mimikatz has remained a top threat for the last two years, mirroring the threat landscape trend of attacks most commonly leveraging stolen credentials," the report states. "These days, it isn't enough to simply use a strong and unique password. Attackers have too many ways to steal that password right out from under you, whether it be from tools like Mimikatz or through clever phishing attacks."

Mimikatz is not the only penetration tool used by online attackers. Two modules for the Kali Linux distribution for penetration testers made the top 10 list as well.

WatchGuard advises workers to use two-factor authentication to reduce the impact of stolen credentials. In addition, the security firm recommends that companies train their workers to spot phishing attacks and deploy breach detection technology. 

Related Content:

Check out The Edge, Dark Reading's new section for features, threat data, and in-depth perspectives. Today's top story: "The Beginner's Guide to Denial-of-Service Attacks: A Breakdown of Shutdowns."

 

Veteran technology journalist of more than 20 years. Former research engineer. Written for more than two dozen publications, including CNET News.com, Dark Reading, MIT's Technology Review, Popular Science, and Wired News. Five awards for journalism, including Best Deadline ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
Mobile Banking Malware Up 50% in First Half of 2019
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/17/2020
Exploits Released for As-Yet Unpatched Critical Citrix Flaw
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer,  1/13/2020
Microsoft to Officially End Support for Windows 7, Server 2008
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/13/2020
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
The Year in Security: 2019
This Tech Digest provides a wrap up and overview of the year's top cybersecurity news stories. It was a year of new twists on old threats, with fears of another WannaCry-type worm and of a possible botnet army of Wi-Fi routers. But 2019 also underscored the risk of firmware and trusted security tools harboring dangerous holes that cybercriminals and nation-state hackers could readily abuse. Read more.
Flash Poll
[Just Released] How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
[Just Released] How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
Organizations have invested in a sweeping array of security technologies to address challenges associated with the growing number of cybersecurity attacks. However, the complexity involved in managing these technologies is emerging as a major problem. Read this report to find out what your peers biggest security challenges are and the technologies they are using to address them.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-7227
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
Westermo MRD-315 1.7.3 and 1.7.4 devices have an information disclosure vulnerability that allows an authenticated remote attacker to retrieve the source code of different functions of the web application via requests that lack certain mandatory parameters. This affects ifaces-diag.asp, system.asp, ...
CVE-2019-15625
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
A memory usage vulnerability exists in Trend Micro Password Manager 3.8 that could allow an attacker with access and permissions to the victim's memory processes to extract sensitive information.
CVE-2019-19696
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
A RootCA vulnerability found in Trend Micro Password Manager for Windows and macOS exists where the localhost.key of RootCA.crt might be improperly accessed by an unauthorized party and could be used to create malicious self-signed SSL certificates, allowing an attacker to misdirect a user to phishi...
CVE-2019-19697
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
An arbitrary code execution vulnerability exists in the Trend Micro Security 2019 (v15) consumer family of products which could allow an attacker to gain elevated privileges and tamper with protected services by disabling or otherwise preventing them to start. An attacker must already have administr...
CVE-2019-20357
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-18
A Persistent Arbitrary Code Execution vulnerability exists in the Trend Micro Security 2020 (v160 and 2019 (v15) consumer familiy of products which could potentially allow an attacker the ability to create a malicious program to escalate privileges and attain persistence on a vulnerable system.