A combination of newer and older threat variations defined the cybersecurity landscape in the first quarter of 2015. Malvertising, zero-day vulnerability exploitation, “old-school” macro malware and the decade-old FREAK vulnerability are just a few of the highlights in Trend Micro’s new report.The report is entitled Bad Ads and Zero-Days: Reemerging Threats Challenge Trust in Supply Chains and Best Practices.
From an industry perspective, healthcare and retail point-of-sale systems have also seen an uptick in threat activity. The report reinforces how complacency can present major cybersecurity risks in an era where the margin for error has been significantly diminished.
“Even though we are early in the year, it is clear 2015 is shaping up to be noteworthy in terms of the volume, ingenuity and sophistication of attacks,” says Raimund Genes, CTO, Trend Micro.
“The rise in attacks against the healthcare industry, combined with the rise in malvertisements, reflects that technology users are being assailed from all angles. It is clear businesses and individuals alike need to be proactive in protecting against threats. As a business, what would your IT-Security policies look like in a zero trust environment? An aggressive and alternative security posture is critical to keep financial, personal and intellectual property safe.”
Adware also topped the list of mobile threats, with Trend Micro now documenting more than five million Android threats to date – nearing the predicted total of eight million by the close of 2015. In fact, top malicious and high-risk apps blocked by Trend Micro were adware related, reflecting this increase.
Trend Micro researchers also found zero-day exploits targeting Adobe software utilised malvertisements and no longer required victims to visit or interact with malicious sites to become infected.
The healthcare industry experienced a notable rise in cyber-attacks, in addition to iOS and point-of-sale (PoS) systems continuing to be targeted. Since exploitations in these areas have been in their infancy for several years, researchers believe this rise is primarily due to a lack of preparedness—a sizable oversight that should be addressed.
“The question we have to ask is ‘Are we doing enough to protect ourselves from security threats?’,” says Gregory Anderson, country manager, Trend Micro South Africa. “While we need to constantly update our systems to protect against new attacks, the first quarter of 2015 clearly showed we also need to watch out for older threats, and that no industry or system should feel exempt.”
Report highlights include:
* Healthcare industry hit by massive attacks: Major healthcare service providers, such as Premera Blue Cross and Anthem, suffered data breaches that exposed millions of customers’ financial and medical data;
* Old threats invigorated with new targeted attack tools, tactics and procedures: Rocket Kitten and those behind Operation Pawn Storm set their sights on new targets, proving that targeted attacks are evolving;
* Exploit kits grew in sophistication: Exploit kits constantly add new exploits to their arsenals, adding to their allure to expert and novice attackers;
* Crypto-Ransomware volume soared, expands to enterprises: Crypto-ransomware expanded their target base to enterprise users, no longer exclusively pursuing consumers;
* Macro malware, old but still effective: The resurgence of macro malware suggested cybercriminals are taking advantage of user security complacency, through reliance on Microsoft Office defaults; and
* Decade-old FREAK security flaw brought on patch management challenges: As more vulnerabilities emerge in open source OSs and applications, IT administrators will find it increasingly difficult to mitigate risks.