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

IBM report projects evolution of phishing, ransomware and spoof tech

By Nick Forrester
Wed 19 Feb 2020
FYI, this story is more than a year old

IBM Security yesterday released the IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index 2020, highlighting how cybercriminals' techniques have evolved after decades of access to tens of billions of corporate and personal records and hundreds of thousands of software flaws. 

According to the report, 60% of initial entries into victims' networks that were observed leveraged either previously stolen credentials or known software vulnerabilities, allowing attackers to rely less on deception to gain access.

The report identified the top three initial attack vectors:

  • Phishing was a successful initial infection vector in 31% of incidents observed, compared to half in 2018.
  • Scanning and exploitation of vulnerabilities resulted in 30% of observed incidents, compared to just 8% in 2018. 
    In fact, older, known vulnerabilities in Microsoft Office and Windows Server Message Block were still finding high rates of exploitation in 2019.
  • The use of previously stolen credentials is also gaining ground as a preferred point-of-entry 29% of the time in observed incidents. 
    Just in 2019, the report states more than 8.5 billion records were compromised - resulting in a 200% increase in exposed data reported year over year, adding to the growing number of stolen credentials that cybercriminals can use as their source material.

"The amount of exposed records that we're seeing today means that cybercriminals are getting their hands on more keys to our homes and businesses,” says IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence vice president Wendi Whitmore. 

“Attackers won't need to invest time to devise sophisticated ways into a business; they can deploy their attacks simply by using known entities, such as logging in with stolen credentials.

"Protection measures such as multi-factor authentication and single sign-on are important for the cyber resilience of organisations and the protection and privacy of user data," says Whitmore.

IBM X-Force conducted its analysis based on insights and observations from monitoring 70 billion security events per day in more than 130 countries. 

IBM X-Force also runs thousands of spam traps around the world and monitors tens of millions of spam and phishing attacks daily, while analysing billions of web pages and images to detect fraudulent activity and brand abuse.
 

Ransomware Attacks Evolve

The report shows an uptick in ransomware activity in 2019. IBM X-Force deployed its incident response team to ransomware incidents in 13 industries worldwide, reaffirming that these attacks are industry agnostic.

While over 100 U.S. government entities were impacted by ransomware attacks last year, IBM X-Force also saw significant attacks against retail, manufacturing and transportation -- which are known to either hold a surplus of monetizable data or rely on outdated technology and, thus, face the vulnerability sprawl. 

In 80% of observed ransomware attempts, attackers were exploiting Windows Server Message Block vulnerabilities, the same tactic used to propagate WannaCry, an attack that crippled businesses across 150 countries in 2017.

With ransomware attacks costing organisations over US$7.5 billion in 2019, adversaries are reaping the rewards and have no incentive to slow down in 2020. 

In collaboration with Intezer, IBM's report states new malware code was observed in 45% of banking trojans and 36% of ransomware. 

This suggests that by creating new code, attackers are continuing to invest in efforts to avoid detection.

Concurrently, IBM X-Force observed a strong relationship between ransomware and banking trojans with the latter being used to open the door for high-stakes ransomware attacks. 

For example, the most active financial malware according to the report, TrickBot, is suspected of deploying Ryuk on enterprise networks.

Other banking trojans, such as QakBot, GootKit and Dridex are also diversifying to ransomware variants. 
 

Adversaries Spoof Tech and Social Media Companies in Phishing Schemes

As consumers become more aware of phishing emails, phishing tactics themselves are becoming more targeted. 

In collaboration with Quad9, IBM observed a squatting trend in phishing campaigns, wherein attackers impersonate consumer tech brands with tempting links - using tech, social media and content streaming companies to trick users into clicking malicious links in phishing attempts.

Nearly 60% of the top 10 spoofed brands identified were Google and YouTube domains, while Apple (15%) and Amazon (12%) domains were also spoofed by attackers looking to steal users' monetisable data. 

IBM X-Force assesses that these brands were targeted primarily due to the monetizable data they hold.

Facebook, Instagram and Netflix also made the list of top 10 spoofed brands observed but at a significantly lower use rate. 

This may be due to the fact that these services don't typically hold directly monetisable data. 

As attackers often bet on credential reuse to gain access to accounts with more lucrative payouts, IBM X-Force suggests that frequent password reuse may be what potentially made these brands targets. 

In fact, IBM's Future of Identity Study found that 41% of millennials surveyed reuse the same password multiple times and Generation Z averages use of only five passwords, indicating a heavier reuse rate.

Discerning spoofed domains can be extremely difficult, which is exactly what attackers bet on. 

With nearly 10 billion accounts combined, the top 10 spoofed brands listed in the report offer attackers a wide target pool, increasing the likelihood that an unsuspecting user clicks a seemingly innocent link from a spoofed brand.

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Equinix
Aussie businesses buckle down on digital tech investments
Australian businesses are planning major investments in digital technologies to support ambitious expansion plans.
Story image
ABI Research
75% of 5G networks to advance to 5G-Advanced by 2030
5G-advanced is set to launch in 2025, and 75% of 5G networks will upgrade by 2030, according to ABI Research. 
Story image
Ransomware
Examining the future of ransomware threats with Vectra’s CTO
As customers' valuable data move to the cloud, so will ransomware. What is the current landscape and what do we need to know?
Story image
Apple
Your tools, your choice: why allow employees to choose their own devices?
Jamf Australia says giving your team the freedom to work with their digital device of choice could help to attract and retain top talent in a tight labour market.
Story image
Compliance
SentinelOne integrates with Torq to empower security teams
"With Torq, security teams can extend the power of SentinelOne to systems across the organisation to benefit from a proactive security posture.”
Story image
Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)
LogRhythm updates SIEM Platform with latest innovations
LogRhythm has announced the launch of version 7.9 of the LogRhythm SIEM Platform and updates to LogRhythm NDR and LogRhythm UEBA.
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
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
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
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
Cybersecurity
Palo Alto Networks' cloud security platform receives IRAP assessment
"We provide help protect all forms of compute, cloud native services and access to data within public and private sectors."
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
Cybersecurity
Security driving customer identity & access management adoption
"CIAM allows businesses to embed a secure identity layer into their consumer and SaaS applications, facilitating secure, seamless end user experiences."
Story image
Media
Registrations for the W.Media Sydney Cloud and Datacenter Convention 2022 now open
Are you a C-Level executive looking to enhance your knowledge in the cloud and data center space in order to get the best results for your company?
Story image
Document Management
NZ's FileInvite raises $10M in latest investment round
FileInvite has raised $10 million in Series A investment to fast-forward the extinction of email for requesting and collecting documents online.
Story image
Document Management
Regaining digital trust and enhancing digitisation in Australian Government agencies
Having a digitised ecosystem of documents, tools and data can help bolster security, improve workflow and ultimately create better services.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Without trust, your security team is dead in the water
The rise of cyberattacks has increased the need for sound security that works across any type of business, but with any change, buy-in is essential. Airwallex explains why.
Story image
Cyber Criminal
Identity and access: the fight is on
Blue team defenders are used to protecting our data, applications, and users with access controls and other security mechanisms, which is why attacks like this are especially challenging when they target identity and access control systems.
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
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."
Story image
Compliance
Stock security features inadequate in face of rising risk
"Organisations must proactively find ways of identifying unseen vulnerabilities and should take a diligent, holistic approach to cybersecurity."
Story image
Training
Barracuda customises training to fit ACSC Essential Eight
Barracuda has announced that its Security Awareness Training now provides a customised training curriculum in line with the Australian Cyber Security Centre’s (ACSC) Essential Eight.
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
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
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
Enterprise Resource Planning / ERP
Five ways your ERP is letting you down and why it's 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
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
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
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
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. 
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
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
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
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
Malware
Colt launches new SASE Gateway solution with Versa
Colt Technology Services’ customers now have access to an integrated full SASE solution that brings together SD WAN and SSE features.
Story image
Solutions
Progress launches latest version of network visibility solution
In Flowmon 12 network solution, Progress has expanded its support for public cloud provider flow log monitoring and launched new features.
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
Apple
Jamf introduces new content filtering solution for education providers
Jamf has announced the launch of Jamf Safe Internet, a new offering that looks to deliver a safe online experience to students while offering better management options for admins.
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
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
Cybersecurity
How organisations can mitigate IoT and IIoT security risks
IoT and IIoT come with inherent risks because they are often deployed faster than they can be secured, putting organisations in danger of cyber threats. Here are tips on how to mitigate those risks.
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.
Story image
SaaS
Ping Identity appoints Deloitte Australia as a partner
Ping Identity has appointed Deloitte Australia as a Consulting Technology Partner, uniting its offerings with the company's consulting services.