Hacker typing on a laptop

Emma Okonji

Check Point Software Technologies Ltd, the largest network cyber security vendor globally, providing industry-leading solutions and protecting customers from cyber attacks, has released results of its recent study on global cyber attacks, which was carried out between January and June this year.

The result showed that 2017 recorded the highest number of cyber attacks globally, when compared with previous years.

According to the report, prominent malware and attack methods continue to evolve creatively, bypassing existing security solutions in 2017.

The report said In 2016, the globe witnessed sophisticated new malware emerging on a regular basis, exposing new capabilities, distribution methods, and attack services offered for sale through multiple platforms, but that in 2017 the frequency of attacks and the effects of the attacks were much more than previous years’ attacks, as highly effective malware families continue to cause rapid destruction globally.

So far, in 2017 cyber-attacks are occurring at a higher frequency than previous years. Recent infiltrations have demonstrated the agility, scale and persistence of an attack that criminals are capable of executing. All regions have suffered from these large-scale attacks, reinforcing the need for proactive solutions. Massive attack campaigns such as WannaCry, NotPetya and Fireball, showcase the nature of today’s threat landscape. As the year progressed, we were able to witness the reoccurring global trends, the report said.

It listed the reoccurring global trends to include; Nation-state cyber weapons; Adware and malware; Macro-based downloaders; Mobile bankers, among others.

The report said Nation-state cyber weapons are now in the hands of criminals, and that data leakage incidents have significantly evolved in sophistication, frequency and volume of data being accessed. As seen in several incidents throughout the first half of 2017, the theft and consequent availability of key nation-state hacking tools, combined with wide scale zero-day vulnerabilities, now enable unskilled hackers to carry out highly sophisticated attack campaigns.

It explained that the line between Adware and malware is fading, and mobile adware botnets are on the rise. Adware, which automatically displays or downloads advertising material on an infected machine, was until recently not among our greatest concerns, as while sometimes annoying, its sole purpose is to generate revenue and not to cause actual damage. In parallel, mobile adware botnets continue to expand and dominate the mobile malware arena. In the first half of 2017, the globe witnessed a persistent rise in the spread and technical capabilities of mobile adware botnets.

The report further explained that Macro-based downloaders continue to evolve, as malware continues to evolve, the same is true for its delivery methods. During the past six months, there were some new methods for exploiting Microsoft Office files, which no longer require victims to open the door for the attackers by enabling macros.

The report stated that a new wave of mobile bankers on GooglePlay, is also trending, whereby a new wave of mobile bankers, most of which belong to the BankBot family, managed to enter the play store undetected and infect users. This is an alarming development as the bankers malware harm users directly, and supposed to be easier to detect. However, the perpetrators combined open-sourced banking malware code with complex obfuscation techniques to successfully and repeatedly bypass Google’s protections.

Identifying main malware categories to include banking, mobile an ransomware, the report said ransomware is by far the most prevalent across all regions, including Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Addressing new ways of understanding emerging threats and implementing the latest prevention technologies, the Check Point report suggested that organisations can create a solid cyber security defensive posture, and deploy latest technology solutions that will address all manners of cyber attacks.