SecurityBrief Australia logo
Australia's leading source of cybersecurity and cyber-attack news
Story image

ESET Research releases T3 2021 Threat Report summarising key cybersecurity research

By Ryan Morris-Reade
Wed 9 Feb 2022

The latest issue of the ESET Threat Report sheds light on the most frequent external attack vectors, the reason behind the rise of email threats, and shifts in the prevalence of some threats due to fluctuating exchange rates of cryptocurrencies.   

ESET Research has released its T3 2021 Threat Report summarising key statistics from ESET detection systems and highlighting notable examples of ESET cybersecurity research, including exclusive, previously unpublished updates on current threats. 

One of the key insights from the research was the ProxyLogon vulnerability being found as the second most frequent external attack vector in ESET's 2021 statistics, right behind password-guessing attacks. Microsoft Exchange servers fell under siege again in August 2021, with ProxyLogon's 'younger sibling', ProxyShell, exploited worldwide by several threat groups.

Other research in the report involves the Log4Shell vulnerability, yet another critical flaw in the ubiquitous Log4j utility that surfaced in mid-December and sent IT teams scrambling, again, to locate and patch the flaw in their systems.

"This vulnerability, scoring a ten on the Common Vulnerability Scoring System, put countless servers at risk of a complete takeover – so it came as no surprise that cybercriminals instantly started exploiting it," says ESET chief research officer, Roman Kov.

"Despite only being known for the last three weeks of the year, Log4j attacks were the fifth most common external intrusion vector in 2021 in our statistics, showing just how quickly threat actors are at taking advantage of newly emerging critical vulnerabilities."

The research presented in the ESET Threat Report T3 2021 also provides previously unpublished information about APT group operations. This time, researchers offer updates on the activity of cyberespionage group OilRig, the latest information on in-the-wild ProxyShell exploitation, and new spearphishing campaigns by the infamous cyberespionage group the Dukes.

ESET says the end of the year was also turbulent for Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) attacks, which escalated throughout all of 2020 and 2021. The numbers from the last weeks of T3 2021 broke all previous records, amounting to a massive yearly growth of 897% in total attack attempts blocked – even though 2021 was no longer marked by the chaos of newly imposed lockdowns and sudden transitions to remote work.

The report also shows that ransomware, previously described in the ESET Threat Report Q4 2020 as 'more aggressive than ever', surpassed the worst expectations in 2021, with attacks against critical infrastructure, outrageous ransom demands and over USD 5 billion worth of bitcoin transactions tied to potential ransomware payments identified in the first half of 2021 alone. As the bitcoin exchange rate reached its highest point in November, ESET experts observed an influx of cryptocurrency-targeting threats, further boosted by the recent popularity of NFTs.

In mobile, ESET noted an alarming upsurge in Android banking malware detections, which rose by 428% in 2021 compared to 2020, reaching the detection levels of adware – a common nuisance on the Android platform. While email threats saw their yearly detection numbers more than double. This trend was mainly driven by a rise in phishing emails, which more than compensated for the rapid decline in Emotet's signature malicious macros in email attachments. Emotet, an infamous trojan inactive for most of the year, as illustrated in the report, came back from the dead in T3.

The report also reviews some important research findings, with ESET Researchers uncovering FontOnLake, a new malware family targeting Linux, a previously undocumented real-world UEFI bootkit named ESPecter, FamousSparrow, a cyberespionage group targeting hotels, governments, and private companies worldwide, and others. T3 also saw ESET researchers publish a comprehensive analysis of all 17 malicious frameworks known to have been used to attack air-gapped networks and conclude their extensive series of deep dives into Latin American banking trojans.

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Cybersecurity
Delinea’s Joseph Carson recognised with OnCon Icon Award
Delinea chief security scientist and advisory CISO Joseph Carson has been recognised as a Top 50 Information Security Professional in the 2022 OnCon Icon Awards.
Story image
Documentation
Adobe study finds lack of digital trust and utilisation in Australian Government agencies
New research commissioned by Adobe has revealed a significant lack of digital trust within Australian Government departments, along with the continued underutilisation of key digital processes.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Eight top DevSecOps trends to support IT innovation in 2022
The use of DevSecOps practices is growing, as it is increasingly seen as the best way to produce high-quality and secure code. So what are the current trends?
Story image
Digital Fingerprint
Decline in counterfeit cherries after digital fingerprinting
Reid Fruits says there’s been a dramatic decline in counterfeit products for its cherries over the past three export seasons to Asia because of digital fingerprinting.
Story image
Trend Micro
5G network projects driven by improving security and privacy
Trend Micro's new study reveals the prospect of improved security and privacy capabilities are the main motivations behind private 5G wireless network projects.
Story image
Tech job moves
Tech job moves - Bitdefender, Cohesity, Fortinet & MODIFI
We round up all job appointments from June 27-30, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
HP Inc
Firmware attacks significant threat in age of hybrid work
Changing workforce dynamics are creating new challenges for IT teams around firmware security, according to new research.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Vectra AI named as AWS security competency partner
Threat detection and response company Vectra AI has announced that it has become an Amazon Web Services Security Competency Partner.
Story image
Enterprise Resource Planning / ERP
Five ways your ERP is letting you down and why its time for a change
Wiise explains while moving to a new system may seem daunting, the truth is that legacy systems could be holding your business back.
Story image
Internet of Things
ManageEngine wins big in IDC MarketScape assessment
ManageEngine's Endpoint Central service has been recognised as a leader by IDC MarketScape in several categories including Internet of Things device deployments and UEM software for SMEs.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Zscaler launches co-located data centres in Canberra and Auckland
The investment will offer public and private sector enterprises greater resilience in support of their zero trust cybersecurity posture.
Story image
Digital Transformation
Cybersecurity priorities for digital leaders navigating digital transformation
In recent years, Asia-Pacific has especially been a hotspot for cyberattacks, and as we continue into 2022, it’s evident that the problem is becoming more significant.
Story image
API
Industry-first comprehensive risk-based API security enhances protection
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) have become a crucial part of operating web and mobile application businesses and are causing significant economic growth in the digital sector.
PwC
WSLHD and PwC’s Consulting Business came together to solve through the challenges of COVID-19. A model of care was developed to the NSW Health Agency for Clinical Innovation guidelines with new technology platforms and an entirely new workforce.
Link image
Story image
Digital Transformation
What CISOs think about cyber security, visibility and cloud
Seeking to uncover the minds of CISOs and CIOs across Asia Pacific, my company recently asked Frost & Sullivan to take a snapshot of cloud adoption behaviour in the region.
Story image
Cybersecurity
FIDO Alliance releases guidelines for optimising UX with FIDO Security Keys
The new guidelines aim to accelerate multi-factor authentication deployment and adoption with FIDO security keys.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Zero trust security adoption rises 27% in just two years
A survey of WAN managers has revealed that multi-factor authentication and single sign-on are the top zero trust features implemented.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Aqua Security, CIS create software supply chain security guide
Aqua Securityand the Center for Internet Security have together released the industry’s first formal guidelines for software supply chain security.
Story image
Tech job moves
Tech job moves - ActiveCampaign, Arcserve, LogRhythm & Qlik
We round up all job appointments from June 17-22, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Research
New study reveals 51% of employees using unauthorised apps
The research shows that 92% of employees and managers in large enterprises want full control over applications, but they don't have it.
Story image
WatchGuard Technologies
Ransomware volume doubled 2021 total by end of Q1 2022
Ransomware detections in the first quarter of this year doubled the total volume reported for 2021, according to a new report. 
Story image
Cloudera
Overcoming hybrid and multi-cloud challenges to drive innovation
Driven by improvements in technology, financial services companies have advanced both internal and external systems and processes, with the likes of digitisation, personalisation and risk management redefining the industry.
Story image
Amazon Web Services / AWS
Zscaler, AWS accelerate onramp to the cloud with zero trust
Zscaler has announced an extension to its relationship with Amazon Web Services, as well as innovations built on Zscaler's Zero Trust architecture.
Story image
Internet of Things
Domino's Pizza: A blueprint for secure enterprise IoT deployment
Increasingly, organisations are embracing smart technologies to underpin innovations that can enhance safety and productivity in every part of our lives, from industrial systems, utilities, and building management to various forms of business enablement.
Story image
State Library of Victoria
State Library of Victoria entrusts Oracle support and security to Rimini Street
“Our finance team are very happy with the support and security that Rimini Street provides, which keeps our assets and our customers secure."
Story image
Gartner
Gartner's top recommendations for security leaders
"Leaders now recognise that major disruption is only one crisis away. We can’t control it, but we can evolve our thinking, philosophy, program and architecture.”
Story image
Cybersecurity
Video: 10 Minute IT Jams - An update from CrowdStrike
Scott Jarkoff joins us today to discuss current trends in the cyber threat landscape, and the reporting work CrowdStrike is doing to prevent further cyber harm.
Story image
Network Security
Netskope announces zero trust network access updates
Customers can now apply zero trust principles across a range of hybrid work security needs, including SaaS, IaaS, private applications, and endpoint devices.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Abnormal Security finds financial supply chain under threat
New research by Abnormal Security has found a rising trend in financial supply chain compromise as threat actors increasingly impersonate vendors.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Significant security concerns resulting from open source software ubiquity
"The risk is real, and the industry must work closely together in order to move away from poor open source or software supply chain security practices."
Story image
Cybersecurity
Threat actors ramp up their social engineering attacks
As people get better at identifying potential threats in their inbox, threat actors must evolve their methods. Their new M.O? Social engineering.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Email threats spike 101%, remains a top attack vector
"Each year we see innovation in the threat landscape, but each year email remains a major threat to organisations."
PwC
PwC's Consulting Business and PwC's Indigenous Consulting are proud to play an important role in helping Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience build IMAGI-NATION, a free online university for marginalised communities around the world.
Link image
Story image
Cybersecurity
Vulnerable APIs costing businesses billions every year
Large companies are particularly vulnerable to the security risks associated with exposed or unprotected APIs as they accelerate digital transformation.  
Story image
Vendor
Forescout reveals top vulnerabilities impacting OT vendors
Forescout’s Vedere Labs has disclosed OT: ICEFALL, naming 56 vulnerabilities affecting devices from 10 operational technology vendors.
Story image
Payroll
How New South Wales state departments achieved cloud migration success
State departments in New South Wales are heading to the cloud to achieve better workflow solutions, and one company is paving the way for their success.
Story image
Ransomware
Secureworks reveals new information on BRONZE STARLIGHT threat group
New research from Secureworks has uncovered new information on the Chinese threat group BRONZE STARLIGHT and how they are using targeted ransomware to initiate complicated attacks.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Juniper study reveals top AI trends in APAC region
Juniper's research shows an increase in enterprise artificial intelligence adoption over the last 12 months is yielding tangible benefits to organisations.
Story image
Identity and Access Management
Ping Identity launches corporate venture capital fund
Ping Identity has launched a corporate venture capital fund to foster innovative offerings for the identity security market.
Story image
Oracle Cloud
Commvault, Oracle to deliver Metallic Data Management as a Service
"We are excited to partner with Commvault and enable our customers to restore and recover their most mission-critical cloud data."
Story image
Attack
Phishing attacks are making a comeback
No matter what approach or tool cybercriminals use to breach a network, they all have one thing in common: access.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Tech and data’s role in the changing face of compliance
Accenture's study found that 93% of respondents agree or strongly agree new technologies such as AI and cloud make compliance easier.
Story image
MSP
Video: 10 Minute IT Jams - An update from CyberArk
Olly Stimpson joins us today to discuss the importance of MSP programmes and how MSP partners are experiencing success with CyberArk.
Story image
Cloud Security
Palo Alto Networks bolsters cloud native security offerings
Latest Prisma Cloud platform updates help organisations continuously monitor and secure web applications with maximum flexibility.