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Mobile banking threats in the top 10

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The Kaspersky Security Bulletin Overall Statistics Report for 2015 highlighted a new trend: for the first time ever, mobile financial threats rank among the top ten malicious programs designed to steal money. Two families of mobile banking Trojans – Faketoken and Marcher – were included in 2015’s top 10 banking Trojans. Another remarkable and alarming trend for the year is the rapid spread of ransomware. Kaspersky Lab detected this in 200 countries and territories in 2015 – including South Africa.
In fact, looking at the geography of banking malware attacks in 2015, South Africa ranked in the top 10 countries – in the ninth position.
Other main trends in cybercriminal activity in 2015 included:
* Cybercriminals looking to minimise the risk of criminal prosecution switched from malware attacks to the aggressive distribution of adware. In 2015, adware accounted for 12 of the top 20 web-based threats. Advertising programmes were registered on 26,1% of user computers.
* Kaspersky Lab also observed new techniques for masking exploits, shellcodes and payloads to make the detection of infections and analysis of malicious code more difficult. Specifically, cybercriminals used the Diffie-Hellman encryption protocol and concealed exploit packs in Flash objects.
* Cybercriminals made active use of Tor anonymisation technology to hide command servers, and used Bitcoins for making transactions.
The Faketoken and Marcher programs steal payment details from Android devices: they track the launch of two apps after infecting a device – the mobile banking app of a European bank and Google Play. If the user starts the banking application or Google Play, Marcher displays a false window requesting credit card details which then go to fraudsters. Representatives of the Faketoken family work in partnership with computer Trojans: a user is manipulated to install an application on their smartphone, which is actually a Trojan that intercepts the one-time confirmation code (mTAN).
“In 2015, cybercriminals focused time and resources in developing malicious financial programmes for mobile devices. This is not surprising as millions of people worldwide now use their smartphone to pay for services and goods. Based on current trends, we can assume that in 2016, mobile banking malware will account for an even greater share,” says Yury Namestnikov, senior security researcher at the Kaspersky Lab Global Research and Analysis Team.
“Traditional” financial cybercrime hasn’t declined, however: in total, Kaspersky Lab solutions blocked almost 2-million attempts to launch malware capable of stealing money via online banking on computers in 2015, an increase of 2,8% on 2014.
The numerous modifications of the most widely-used malware family, ZeuS, were dethroned by Dyre/Dyzap/Dyreza. Over 40% of those attacked by banking Trojans in 2015 were hit by Dyreza using an effective web injection method in order to steal data and access the online banking system.
In 2015, ransomware rapidly expanded its presence on new platforms. One in six (17%) ransomware attacks now involves an Android device, barely a year after the platform was first targeted. Kaspersky Lab’s experts identified two big ransomware trends during 2015. The first is that the total number of users attacked by encryption ransomware increased to almost 180K, up 48,3% compared to 2014. Secondly, in many cases, the encryptors are becoming multi-module and, in addition to encryption, include functionality designed to steal data from victim computers.
Kaspersky Lab’s statistics show that cybercriminals prefer to operate and use hosting services in different countries where the hosting market is well-developed: 80% of attack notifications blocked by antivirus components were received from online resources located in 10 countries. The top three countries where online resources were seeded with malware remained unchanged from the previous year: the US (24,2%), Germany (13%), and the Netherlands (10,7%).