Threat Intelligence

67% of Malware Attacks Came via Phishing in Second Quarter

During the second quarter, cyberattacks soared 24% worldwide with phishing attacks playing a large role and Adobe Flash one of the favorite attack targets.

Organizations hit with malware during the second quarter had it delivered via phishing attacks in 67% of the cases, according to a Global Threat Intelligence Center (GTIC) report released today by NTT Security.

GTIC's 2017 Q2 Threat Intelligence Report, which gleans data from both successful and unsuccessful attempts on its customers, found phishing emails were by far the most heavy used delivery method for malware.

Yet, CISOs and other IT security executives may not be giving phishing and its mitigation as much focus as other attacks.

"I have not seen any studies where CISOs are saying their No. 1 concern is phishing attacks. If you went around a room, it would likely be ransomware and DDoS as the No. 1 and No. 2 things on their mind, in my view," says Jon Heimerl, manager of the Threat Intelligence communications team. "I would be amazed if phishing was on their top 5 or even top 10 list."

He added it usually takes a CISO getting hit with a malware attack that was delivered via a phishing email for a focus to be placed on developing ways to mitigate phishing attacks. And ways to address this form of attack typically comes by way of using technology to filter out nefarious emails, as well as putting together policies and employee education to tackle this increasing form of attacks, he noted.

"Over the last few years, there has been an explosion in attacks aimed at the end user, including phishing attacks," Heimerl says.

He attributes that to cybercriminals going for the low-hanging fruit where it takes as little as 10 minutes to craft an effective email to entice a user to click on a link or download an attachment that will ultimately provide access to the core of the network, rather than spending days creating exploits.

NTT Security found malicious attachments accompanying phishing emails often come with embedded VBA macros that frequently hold obscure PowerShell commands that download the malware. NTT Security expects cyberattackers continue to use embedded VBA macros that rely on a various Windows tools that range from PowerShell to Windows Management Instrumentation Command-Line to PsExec for malware payload downloads.

Industries Capturing the Eyes of Cybercriminals

Manufacturing captured the top ranking of targeted industries in the second quarter, accounting for 34% of all malicious attacks in the three-month period. That was followed by finance at 25% and healthcare at 13%, the report found.

The type of attacks the manufacturing industry endured during the quarter was predominately reconnaissance attacks, which accounted for 33% of the activity against the sector that involved scanning for vulnerabilities in applications and systems, according to the report. Brute-force attacks, meanwhile, accounted for 22% of attacks on the manufacturing industry and malware 9%, the report noted. Some of the scanning tools used by cybercriminals against the manufacturing industry included ZmEu, Muieblackcat and Metasploit to peer into public-facing systems, according to the report.

Top Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures

An Adobe Flash remote code execution bug (CVE-2016-4116) patched last spring took the title of most-targeted vulnerability in the second quarter, accounting for 57% of targeted campaigns, the report stated. Flash, overall, accounted for a whopping 98% of all Adobe flaws, the report found.

Last month, Adobe announced it will end support for Flash in 2020.

"If you're a CISO and you don't need to run Flash, then you should uninstall it," advised Heimerl, adding that CISOs will have to ask themselves what their risk tolerance level is like.

The other top common vulnerabilities and exposures in the second quarter included the Apache Struts remote code execution vuln discovered in March (CVE-2017-5638), which accounted for 24% of attack target campaigns, and ShellShock (CVE-2014-6271), which continues to represent 10%, the report stated.

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

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Paul__Walsh
0%
100%
Paul__Walsh,
User Rank: Guru
8/9/2017 | 3:29:59 PM
Re: Understandable
NTT Security is a customer of my company MetaCert - they use our Slack security app to protect them from phishing links while they use Slack. Feel free to reach out to me to learn more at any time, about the security implications of using Team Collaboration platforms. paul at metacert dot .com
RyanSepe
50%
50%
RyanSepe,
User Rank: Ninja
8/9/2017 | 7:46:30 AM
Understandable
This statistic makes sense. If you think of the employee being one of the greater level of security risks to an organization. Then couple that with their ability to subvert in-place security mechanisms be clicking a downloadable disguised by a link in an open communication medium. I'm surprised its not even higher.
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
The Year in Security 2018
This Dark Reading Tech Digest explores the biggest news stories of 2018 that shaped the cybersecurity landscape.
Flash Poll
How Enterprises Are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How Enterprises Are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
Data breach fears and the need to comply with regulations such as GDPR are two major drivers increased spending on security products and technologies. But other factors are contributing to the trend as well. Find out more about how enterprises are attacking the cybersecurity problem by reading our report today.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2018-6345
PUBLISHED: 2019-01-15
The function number_format is vulnerable to a heap overflow issue when its second argument ($dec_points) is excessively large. The internal implementation of the function will cause a string to be created with an invalid length, which can then interact poorly with other functions. This affects all s...
CVE-2018-7603
PUBLISHED: 2019-01-15
In Drupal's 3rd party module search auto complete prior to versions 7.x-4.8 there is a Cross Site Scripting vulnerability. This Search Autocomplete module enables you to autocomplete textfield using data from your website (nodes, comments, etc.). The module doesn't sufficiently filter user-entered t...
CVE-2019-3554
PUBLISHED: 2019-01-15
Wangle's AcceptRoutingHandler incorrectly casts a socket when accepting a TLS 1.3 connection, leading to a potential denial of service attack against systems accepting such connections. This affects versions of Wangle prior to v2019.01.14.00
CVE-2019-3557
PUBLISHED: 2019-01-15
The implementations of streams for bz2 and php://output improperly implemented their readImpl functions, returning -1 consistently. This behavior caused some stream functions, such as stream_get_line, to trigger an out-of-bounds read when operating on such malformed streams. The implementations were...
CVE-2019-0030
PUBLISHED: 2019-01-15
Juniper ATP uses DES and a hardcoded salt for password hashing, allowing for trivial de-hashing of the password file contents. This issue affects Juniper ATP 5.0 versions prior to 5.0.3.