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What the online security threats are now …

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Public utilities, government attacks and targeted threats dominated the security landscape during the second quarter of 2015.

According to Trend Micro’s Q2 security roundup, A Rising Tide: New Hacks Threaten Public Technologies, cybercriminals became more inventive in their attack methods to infiltrate and abuse existing technologies that are often overlooked.

“In the second quarter, we saw a shift in the threat landscape with cyber criminals becoming more sophisticated and creative, amplifying existing methods of attack, and using them in new ways,” says Raimund Genes, CTO, Trend Micro. “The ethereal outlook on the threat of cybercrime can no longer be held by the general population. This quarter demonstrated that the potential damage caused by cyber-attacks extends far beyond a simple software bug to hacks of airplanes, smart cars and television stations.”

Hackers are taking more strategic approaches, refining their approach and targeting more selective victims to improve their infection rates. This is reflected by the exponential increase in the use of several traditional attack methods, including a 50 percent increase in the integration of the Angler exploit kit, a 67 percent growth in overall exploit kit-related threats, and CryptoWall ransomware becoming highly targeted, with 79 percent of infections occurring in the US.

Additionally, government entities have realized the full impact of cyber-attacks during the second quarter with massive data breaches on both the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in May and the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) system in June. The OPM data breach was the largest of its kind to date, exposing personally identifiable information of approximately 21 million individuals. Other government agencies were impacted by targeted campaigns using macro malware, new command and control (C&C) servers, and the continued use of newly exploited vulnerabilities and 0-days Pawn Storm.

When looking at the Q2 threat landscape as a whole, the US is a major player in both deploying and receiving various attacks, with malicious links, spam, C&C servers and ransomware are all having a major presence.

Report highlights include:
* Hacks causing disruptions to public utilities – broadcast networks, airplanes, automated vehicular systems and home routers pose not only the risk of malware infections, but physical inconveniences and threats. Lone wolf cybercriminals gain notoriety via successful ransomware and PoS attacks, FighterPoS and MalumPoS deployed by solo hackers “Lordfenix” and “Frapstar,” along with Hawkeye keylogger attacks, demonstrated that single individuals are capable of making a significant impact in today’s threat marketplace.

* Government entities fight back against cybercrime – Interpol, Europol, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI all played a role in taking down longstanding botnet operations. Additionally, the indictment of Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht brought to light the nebulous nature and dangers of the Dark Web.

* National and political impacts were made by attacks on government organisations – the attack on OPM was a shocking realisation that no one’s personal data is safe. Macro malware, island-hopping and C&C servers were among the tactics used to target government data in this and similar breaches.

* Public-facing Web sites and mobile devices were threatened in new ways – while threats to software are always present, vulnerabilities in Web apps were proven to be just as dangerous. Attackers will leverage any vulnerability available and custom applications need custom security attention to ensure those entry points are eliminated.