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Threat Intelligence

9/18/2018
02:55 PM
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Websites Attack Attempts Rose in Q2

New data shows hackers hit websites, on average, every 25 minutes.

New data shows attackers are trying to sneak past malware scanners on websites using stealthy hacks such as cryptojacking and malicious JavaScript.

Website security service provider SiteLock analyzed data from 6 million customer websites for the second quarter of 2018 and found that a website, on average, suffers 58 attack attempts per day – or one every 25 minutes – an increase of 16% since the first quarter of this year. That jump comes after a dip in attack attempts from the fourth quarter of 2017 (63 attempts each day) to Q1 of this year (50 per day).

Why the temporary dip? "Malware detection tools are getting better," says Jessica Ortega, a researcher with SiteLock. "Attackers had to step back and hone their skills a bit to find new and sneakier ways to get into websites."

The latest methods of choice are cryptojacking and JavaScript-based attacks, the data shows. Cryptojacking attacks doubled from Q1, while malicious JavaScript files rose 16%. The two go hand in hand, as well, SiteLock said in its report. "This new trend is not surprising because many cryptojacking scripts use JavaScript kits to deploy and collect the mined cryptocurrency. Because cryptojacking and JavaScript are often symptomless to the website owner, they are becoming a new favorite weapon of cybercriminals," the report said.

The two attacks are also leading the way so far in Q3, according to SiteLock's Ortega. "They're going to continue to grow," she says.

But that doesn't mean old-school website attack methods are fading away. "The old standbys – SEO and backdoor files – are not going anywhere. Nearly half of infected sites have one backdoor file on them," she says. "That's easy to deploy."

Some 1% of websites in Q2 were infected with malware, with the average infection requiring cleanup of 178 files – a decline of 28% from Q1 and 91% from Q2 2017.

According to SiteLock, 9% of websites had at least one vulnerability of either cross-site scripting (XSS), cross-site request forgery (CSRF), or SQL injection. That was a 3% increase over Q1. "Those represent the three most common vulns. It's totally possible that the sites have other types of vulns" as well, Ortega notes.

Social Malware
Websites that connect to one social media platform are two times more likely to be infected with malware, according to the study, and sites connected to three or more platforms are three times more likely to get infected.

"We know a lot of sites use plug-ins to connect to social media," Ortega says, and that often leaves websites vulnerable to social media-borne attacks and data stealing. SiteLock recommends performing due diligence before installing any social media or other plug-ins, confirming that they provide regular security updates and patches and study reviews of the apps.

And gone are the days when small website owners can rely on search engine providers alone to alert them and visitors of an infection on their sites. "Of 19.2 million infected sites, only 3 million got flagged by search engines," she says.

SiteLock recommends updating Web apps regularly, and deploying malware scanning and Web application firewalls.

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.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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