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.

Vulnerabilities / Threats

BEC Attacks Far More Lucrative than Ransomware over Past 3 Years

BEC fraud netted cyberthieves five times more profit than ransomware over a three-year period, according to Cisco's midyear report released today.

Despite all the recent attention paid to ransomware, cybercriminals walked away with $5.3 billion from business email compromise (BEC) attacks compared with $1 billion for ransomware over a three-year stretch, according to Cisco's 2017 Midyear Cybersecurity Report released today. 

Cybercriminals are increasingly taking a practical approach to their pilfering, going for the fastest method that they can steal a buck, or in this case, billions, says Steve Martino, Cisco's chief information security officer. "What we are looking at is the continual commercialization of cyberattacks," Martino says, pointing out that is a major theme in the report.

Ransomware exploits take time to develop before any financial gain is realized for cyberthieves, compared to crafting a phishing attack or blasting out spam of which 8% is found to be malicious, notes Martino. BEC attacks are less time-consuming to wage.

In addition, ransomware Bitcoin fees are often lower-dollar figures.

Spam volume peaked towards the end of the year and has since tapered off a bit this year, the report found.

Exploit kits have sharply declined, according to the report. In the February to March period last year, 5,799 exploit kits were blocked. But in May, that figure has since plummeted to under 1,000 exploit kits blocked.

 [Source: Cisco 2017 Midyear Cybersecurity Report]

 

Malware Evolution

Cisco found that in the first half of this year, attackers altered their methods of delivering, hiding, and evading their malicious packages and techniques.

Fileless malware is popping up, which lives in memory and deletes itself once a device restarts, according to the report. As a result, it makes detection and the ability to investigate it more difficult.

Additionally, attackers are also making use of anonymized and decentralized infrastructures, such as Tor proxy services, to hid command and control activities.

Meanwhile, three families of spyware ran rampant, with Hola, RelevantKnowledge, and DNSChanger/DNS Unlocker affecting more than 20% of the 300 companies in the sample for the report.

Ironically, however, many companies and organizations underestimate or virtually dismiss spyware. "Spyware is being disguised as adware and adware, unlike spyware, does not create damages for a company," says Franc Artes, Cisco's Security Business Group architect. He adds that attackers are injecting spyware and other forms of malware into adware, since adware is a low priority for security teams.

Schooling Users on BEC, Ransomware

Cisco's Martino says targeted cybersecurity education for employees can help prevent users from falling for BEC and ransomware attacks. The finance department could especially benefit from security training on phishing campaigns, so when the bogus email comes across the transit of the CEO asking for a funds transfer it can be detected, Martino says.

"I believe in educating the right people on the matters that mean the most to them. I don't believe in sitting everyone down for 45 minutes to run through the same cybersecurity awareness training," Martino says.

Regular software patching also is crucial. When spam laden malware hits or ransomware attacks similar to WannaCry surfaces, the impact can be minimized. "People focus on new technology, but forget about patching and maintaining the infrastructure," Martino observed.

And a balanced defensive and offensive posture, with not just firewalls and antivirus but also including measures to hunt down possible attacks through data collection and analysis, he adds.

Related Content:

Dawn Kawamoto is an Associate Editor for Dark Reading, where she covers cybersecurity news and trends. She is an award-winning journalist who has written and edited technology, management, leadership, career, finance, and innovation stories for such publications as CNET's ... View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 8/3/2020
Pen Testers Who Got Arrested Doing Their Jobs Tell All
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  8/5/2020
Browsers to Enforce Shorter Certificate Life Spans: What Businesses Should Know
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  7/30/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal, a Dark Reading Perspective
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
The Changing Face of Threat Intelligence
The Changing Face of Threat Intelligence
This special report takes a look at how enterprises are using threat intelligence, as well as emerging best practices for integrating threat intel into security operations and incident response. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-15106
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-05
In etcd before versions 3.3.23 and 3.4.10, a large slice causes panic in decodeRecord method. The size of a record is stored in the length field of a WAL file and no additional validation is done on this data. Therefore, it is possible to forge an extremely large frame size that can unintentionally ...
CVE-2020-16192
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-05
LimeSurvey 4.3.2 allows reflected XSS because application/controllers/LSBaseController.php lacks code to validate parameters.
CVE-2020-17364
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-05
USVN (aka User-friendly SVN) before 1.0.9 allows XSS via SVN logs.
CVE-2020-4481
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-05
IBM UrbanCode Deploy (UCD) 6.2.7.3, 6.2.7.4, 7.0.3.0, and 7.0.4.0 is vulnerable to an XML External Entity Injection (XXE) attack when processing XML data. A remote attacker could exploit this vulnerability to expose sensitive information or consume memory resources. IBM X-Force ID: 181848.
CVE-2020-5608
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-05
CAMS for HIS CENTUM CS 3000 (includes CENTUM CS 3000 Small) R3.08.10 to R3.09.50, CENTUM VP (includes CENTUM VP Small, Basic) R4.01.00 to R6.07.00, B/M9000CS R5.04.01 to R5.05.01, and B/M9000 VP R6.01.01 to R8.03.01 allows a remote unauthenticated attacker to bypass authentication and send altered c...