Check Point’s Global Threat Index Shows Malware Attacks on the Rise Again
November 2016 by Check Point
Check Point’s research has shown that the number of malware attacks increased in October, as the company released its monthly Global Threat Index, a ranking of the most prevalent malware families attacking organizations’ networks.
Check Point’s Threat Intelligence Research Team found that both the number of active malware families and number of attacks increased by 5% during the period, pushing the number of attacks on business networks to near peak levels, as seen earlier this year. Locky ransomware attacks continued to rise, moving it up from third to second place, while the Zeus banking trojan moved up two spots, returning it to the top three.
The reason for Locky’s continued growth is the constant variation and expansion of its distribution mechanism, which is primarily through spams emails. Its creators are continually changing the type of files used for downloading the ransomware, including doc, xls and wsf files, as well as making significant structural changes to the spam emails. The actual ransomware itself is nothing exceptional, but cyber criminals are investing a lot of time into maximizing the number of machines that become infected by it. For the seventh consecutive month, HummingBad, an android malware that establishes a persistent rootkit to carry out an array of malicious purposes, remained the most common malware used to attack mobile devices.
Once again Conficker retained its first place position as the world’s most prevalent malware, responsible for 17% of recognized attacks. Both second placed Locky, which only started its distribution in February of this year, and third placed Zeus, were responsible for 5% of known attacks.
The UK was the 81st most attacked country globally (down from 53rd in September), higher than the US (84th) and Germany (88th) but lower than France (74th). The top malware globally was:
1. ↔ Conficker – Worm that allows remote operations and malware download. The infected machine is controlled by a botnet, which contacts its Command & Control server to receive instructions.
2. ↑ Locky – Ransomware, which started its distribution in February 2016, and spreads mainly through spam emails containing a downloader disguised as a Word or Zip file attachment, which then downloads and installs the malware that encrypts the user files.
3. ↑ Zeus - Trojan that targets Windows platforms and is often used to steal banking information by man-in-the-browser keystroke logging and form grabbing.
Mobile malware families continued to pose a significant threat to businesses, with 15 of the top 200 malware families targeting mobile devices. The three most common mobile families were:
1. ↔ HummingBad – Android malware that establishes a persistent rootkit on the device, installs fraudulent applications and enables additional malicious activity such as installing a key-logger, stealing credentials and bypassing encrypted email containers used by enterprises.
2. ↔ Triada – Modular Backdoor for Android which grants super-user privileges to downloaded malware, as helps it to get embedded into system processes. Triada has also been seen spoofing URLs loaded in the browser.
3. ↑ XcodeGhost – A compromised version of the iOS developer platform, Xcode. This unofficial version of Xcode was altered so that it injects malicious code into any app that was developed and compiled using it. The injected code sends app information to a Command & Control server, allowing the infected app to read the device clipboard.
Nathan Shuchami, Head of Threat Prevention at Check Point explained, “With the number of attacks and malware families increasing, the scale of the challenge organizations face in ensuring their networks remain secure is tremendous. The fact the top ten malware remained virtually the same as September suggests that cyber criminals have enjoyed a considerable amount of success with these attack methods, signalling to organizations that they need to proactively respond to protect their critical business assets. It is particularly concerning that a malware family as established and well known as Conficker is so effective, suggesting that organizations aren’t using the latest, multi-layered defenses.”
Check Point’s threat index is based on threat intelligence drawn from its ThreatCloud World Cyber Threat Map, which tracks how and where cyberattacks are taking place worldwide in real time. The Threat Map is powered by Check Point’s ThreatCloudTM intelligence, the largest collaborative network to fight cybercrime, which delivers threat data and attack trends from a global network of threat sensors. The ThreatCloud database holds over 250 million addresses analyzed for bot discovery, over 11 million malware signatures and over 5.5 million infected websites, and identifies millions of malware types daily.