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Credential theft is the hottest trend for cyber attackers in Q2

29 Sep 2017

This year cyber attackers have narrowed their focus to methods that involve credential theft – whether through malware, phishing or brute force attacks, the end result is a massive uptake in prevalence and sophistication.

WatchGuard’s latest quarterly Internet Security Report analyses threats facing SMBs and enterprises. It found that nearly half (47%) of all malware is able to hide from signature-based AV solutions, and is also ‘new’ or zero-day malware.

The number one malware for the second quarter this year was Mimikatz, an open source credential theft tool used for stealing and replacing Windows credentials.

It accounted for 36% of all malware, and it is the first time it has appeared in the report’s top 10 list.

WatchGuard CTO Corey Nachreiner says that data from the report shows attackers are more focused on credential theft than ever before.

 “From JavaScript-enabled phishing attacks and attempts to steal Linux passwords, to brute force attacks against web servers, the common theme here is that login access is a top priority for criminals. Knowing this, businesses must harden exposed servers, seriously consider multi-factor authentication, train users to identify phishing attacks and implement advanced threat prevention solutions to protect their valuable data,” he explains.

Phishing attacks and malicious JavaScript tools are increasingly hand-in-hand. For several quarters, attackers have used JavaScript code and downloaders to deliver malware through both web and email attacks.

In Q2, the most popular method was email phishing attacks that use JavaScript to closely mimic login pages such as Google, Microsoft and others. The similarities to the genuine sites trick users into giving up their details, the report says.

The report also found that brute force attacks are also proving popular for attackers’ quests to gain user credentials. The attacks against web servers use automated tools and work against web servers without protections that monitor failed logins. Automated attacks are able to test thousands of passwords per second.

While brute force attacks were in the top 10 network attacks, network attacks as a whole have dropped 30% compared to Q1.

WatchGuard used anonymised data from its Firebox Feeds across 33,500 appliances. In Q2, appliances blocked more than 16 million malware variants.

“The web continues to be the battleground. As has continued for the third quarter in a row, most if not all the top ten network attack targeted web servers and clients. Adding additional securityservices to your web traffic remains a top priority,” the report concludes.

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