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

Rise in hacking tool downloads as cybercrime becomes 'more organised than ever'

By Shannon Williams
Wed 28 Jul 2021
FYI, this story is more than a year old

There has been a significant increase in the frequency and sophistication of cybercrime activity, including a 65% rise in the use of hacking tools downloaded from underground forums and filesharing websites from H2 2020 to H1 2021, according to the latest global Threat Insights Report from HP.

The researchers noted hacking tools in wide circulation were surprisingly capable. For example, one tool can solve CAPTCHA challenges using computer vision techniques, namely optical character recognition (OCR), in order to perform credential stuffing attacks against websites. 

More broadly, the report found that cybercrime is more organised than ever, with underground forums providing a perfect platform for threat actors to collaborate and share attack tactics, techniques and procedures.

"The proliferation of pirated hacking tools and underground forums are allowing previously low-level actors to pose serious risks to enterprise security," says Dr. Ian Pratt, global head of security, Personal Systems, HP Inc. 

"Simultaneously, users continue to fall prey to simple phishing attacks time and time again. Security solutions that arm IT departments to stay ahead of future threats are key to maximising business protection and resilience," he says.

Notable threats isolated by HP Wolf Security included:

  • Cybercriminal collaboration is opening the door to bigger attacks against victims: Dridex affiliates are selling access to breached organisations to other threat actors, so they can distribute ransomware. The drop in Emotet activity in Q1 2021 has led to Dridex becoming the top malware family isolated by HP Wolf Security.
  • Information stealers delivering nastier malware: CryptBot malware historically used as an infostealer to siphon off credentials from cryptocurrency wallets and web browsers is also being used to deliver DanaBot a banking trojan operated by organised crime groups.
  • VBS downloader campaign targeting business executives: A multi-stage Visual Basic Script (VBS) campaign is sharing malicious ZIP attachments named after the executive its targeting. It deploys a stealthy VBS downloader before using legitimate SysAdmin tools to live off the land, persisting on devices and delivering malware.
  • From application to infiltration: A rsum-themed malicious spam campaign targeted shipping, maritime, logistics and related companies in seven countries (Chile, Japan, UK, Pakistan, US, Italy and the Philippines), exploiting a Microsoft Office vulnerability to deploy the commercially-available Remcos RAT and gain backdoor access to infected computers.

The findings are based on data from HP Wolf Security, which tracks malware within isolated, micro-virtual machines to understand and capture a full infection chain and help to mitigate threats. By better understanding the behaviour of malware in the wild, HP Wolf Security researchers and engineers are able to bolster endpoint security protections and overall system resilience.

"The cybercrime ecosystem continues to develop and transform, with more opportunities for petty cybercriminals to connect with bigger players within organised crime, and download advanced tools that can bypass defenses and breach systems," says Alex Holland, senior malware analyst, HP.

"We are seeing hackers adapt their techniques to drive greater monetisation, selling access on to organised criminal groups so they can launch more sophisticated attacks against organisations," he says. 

"Malware strains like CryptBot previously would have been a danger to users who use their PCs to store cryptocurrency wallets, but now they also pose a threat to businesses. 

"We see infostealers distributing malware operated by organized criminal groups who tend to favour ransomware to monetise their access."

Other key findings in the report include:

  • 75% of malware detected was delivered via email, while web downloads were responsible for the remaining 25%. Threats downloaded using web browsers rose by 24%, partially driven by users downloading hacking tools and cryptocurrency mining software.
  • The most common email phishing lures were invoices and business transactions (49%), while 15% were replies to intercepted email threads. Phishing lures mentioning COVID-19 made up less than 1%, dropping by 77% from H2 2020 to H1 2021.
  • The most common type of malicious attachments were archive files (29%), spreadsheets (23%), documents (19%), and executable files (19%). Unusual archive file types such as JAR (Java Archive files) are being used to avoid detection and scanning tools, and install malware thats easily obtained in underground marketplaces.
  • The report found 34% of malware captured was previously unknown1, a 4% drop from H2 2020.
  • A 24% increase in malware that exploits CVE-2017-11882, a memory corruption vulnerability commonly used to exploit Microsoft Office or Microsoft WordPad and carry out fileless attacks.

"Cybercriminals are bypassing detection tools with ease by simply tweaking their techniques," Holland says. 

"We saw a surge in malware distributed via uncommon file types like JAR files likely used to reduce the chances of being detected by anti-malware scanners," he says. 

"The same old phishing tricks are reeling in victims, with transaction-themed lures convincing users to click on malicious attachments, links and web pages."

Pratt concludes, "As cybercrime becomes more organised, and smaller players can easily obtain effective tools and monetise attacks by selling on access, theres no such thing as a minor breach.

"The endpoint continues to be a huge focus for cybercriminals. Their techniques are getting more sophisticated, so it's more important than ever to have comprehensive and resilient endpoint infrastructure and cyber defense," he says.

"This means utilszing features like threat containment to defend against modern attackers, minimising the attack surface by eliminating threats from the most common attack vectors email, browsers, and downloads."
 

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Machine learning
Sysdig releases CDR offering to combat cryptojacking
Sysdig has unveiled a cloud detection and response (CDR) offering powered by machine learning to combat cryptojacking.
Story image
Data breach
Weak breach data disclosure laws for IP theft leaves vital Australian industries vulnerable
Infoblox has seen unprecedented levels of demand for cyber protection from companies outside of the Critical Infrastructure Act who have discovered security events and those who fear falling victim to IP theft.
Story image
Network Management
Superloop helping Aussie K12 schools with latest offering
Superloop has launched CyberEdge, a new cybersecurity platform that will give K12 schools in Australia the tools to optimise, secure and manage their network.
Story image
ExtraHop
Organisations exposing highly sensitive protocols to public internet
More than 60% of organisations expose remote control protocol SSH to the public internet, while 36% of organisations expose the insecure FTP protocol.
Story image
Ransomware
Big business in cryptocurrencies and cybercrime
As of June this year, about a quarter (26%) of Australians considered cryptocurrency as a good investment, and over 36% have at one point considered buying cryptocurrency as an investment.
Story image
Remote Working
Cybersecurity concerns higher than before the pandemic - report
BeyondTrust's new survey shows Australian organisations are more concerned about cyberattacks than they were before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Story image
Privileged Access Management / PAM
The importance of stopping identity sprawl for cybersecurity
The 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) shows that 61% of all breaches involve malicious actors gaining unauthorised, privileged access to data by using a compromised credential. Unfortunately, it is often too late when the misuse of a credential is detected.
Story image
Dark web
Beware the darkverse and its cyber-physical threats
A darkverse of criminality hidden from law enforcement could quickly evolve to fuel a new industry of metaverse-related cybercrime.
Story image
Rubrik
Gartner names Rubrik Leader in 2022 Magic Quadrant
Rubrik has been positioned by Gartner as a Leader in the 2022 Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Backup and Recovery Software Solutions.
Story image
Compliance
Why security needs to shape your journey to the cloud
It's estimated that 80% of workloads could be in the cloud in the next few years. How can you make all that data secure?
Story image
Healthcare
Why the Metaverse could be the key to enhancing the healthcare sector
The experts at Accenture understand that the programmable world is about building the next version of the physical world in healthcare, understanding complex layers in order to fully utilise technology to its maximum effect.
Story image
Gartner
Veeam named Leader in enterprise backup and recovery
"We believe our innovation and ability to execute validates our solid standing as the #1 trusted provider of modern data protection."
Story image
Web application firewall
Radware recognised in KuppingerCole’s 2022 Leadership Compass report
Radware has been named a Product, Innovation, Market and Overall Leader in the 2022 KuppingerCole Leadership Compass report for Web Application Firewalls.
Story image
Firewall
Fortinet unveils compact firewall for hyperscale data centres, 5G networks
"Fortinet’s dedication to pushing the boundaries of what is possible in security performance has yielded the most powerful compact firewall yet."
Story image
Cybersecurity
Optic Security Group on Australia recruitment drive
Trans-Tasman security integrator looks to meet the twin challenges of high client project demand tight & labour market supply with new opportunities.
Story image
API
Security gaps in APIs plague organisations - study
Together, the findings highlight that existing solutions and API security tactics focused on shift-left strategies are failing to adequately protect APIs.
Story image
SAP
Microsoft unveils two new security products to help reduce attack surfaces
The products are set to give companies deeper insights into threat actor activity and help them successfully navigate the changing threat landscape.
Story image
Data Protection
Video: 10 Minute IT Jams - An update from SearchInform
Alexey Pinchuk joins us today to discuss the role the company plays in helping organisations manage risk and provide better security outcomes.
Story image
Cloud
DCI plans to build new cloud edge data centre in Canberra
DCI is one of the first to commit to the Precinct which has a focus on defence, space, cybersecurity and high-tech manufacturing sectors.
Story image
Cheetah Digital
Privacy, data ethics and the ‘seismic shift’ in consumer trust
Aussie consumers have low levels of trust for advertising, but will pay more to purchase from a trusted brand, a new report from Cheetah Digital reveals.
Story image
Open source
Flashpoint acquires Echosec Systems, elevates OSINT capabilities
Flashpoint has acquired Echosec Systems, a provider of open-source intelligence and publicly available information.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Qualys develops EASM capabilities for Cloud Platform
"Qualys unique approach to EASM is integrating the internal and external asset data from CyberSecurity Attack Management with its VMDR solution into a single view."
Story image
Neat
Workplace design a crucial factor for better employee experience - report
The key to a successful workplace could be its design, according to research from Ecosystm and Neat.
Story image
VMware
Latest VMware threat report reveals truth about deepfakes
"Cyber criminals have evolved. Their new goal is to use deepfake technology to compromise organisations and gain access to their environment."
Story image
Cybersecurity
Datacom research explores reality of zero trust in A/NZ
Zero trust is fast emerging as global best practice in cybersecurity and local leaders are on board, with 83% considering it essential to security.
Story image
Migration
Four benefits companies can realise by transitioning to S/4HANA early
Although there is time before organisations are required to transition to a cloud-based solution, such as S/4HANA, it is beneficial to transition now. Waiting too long could complicate the process.
Story image
Data Protection
Cloud privacy, data protection more complex than on-prem
In the past 12 months, over a third of Australian businesses (36%) experienced a cloud-based data breach or failed audit. 
Story image
Government
Mandiant researchers uncover significant new disinformation campaign
Researchers from Mandiant say they have uncovered a significant disinformation campaign from the Chinese Government in the wake of U.S. Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan.
Story image
Ransomware
Ivanti and SentinelOne partner on patch management solution
Ivanti and SentinelOne will integrate their technologies Ivanti Neurons for Patch Management and SentinelOne's Singularity XDR platform.
Story image
Data Protection
CyberRes partners with Google Cloud in lead up to BigQuery release
CyberRes, a Micro Focus line of business, has announced a partnership with Google Cloud to support the upcoming release of BigQuery remote functions.
Story image
Malware
Research shows attacks on the gaming industry are getting worse
Web application attacks in the gaming sector have grown by 167% from Q1 2021 to Q1 2022, according to new research from Akamai.
AWS Marketplace
Learn how security orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR) enhances your security strategy.
Link image
Story image
Data Protection
VMware introduces advanced workload protection for AWS
VMware Carbon Black Workload for AWS delivers comprehensive visibility and security across on-premises and cloud environments for AWS customers.
Story image
Gaming
Attacks on gaming companies more than double over past year
The State of the Internet report shows gaming companies and gamer accounts are at risk, following a surge in web application attacks post pandemic.
Story image
Indusface
Why enhancing bot protection for web and API endpoints matters
The trouble with bots is that they aren’t all bad. Unfortunately, this can make it challenging to detect malicious bots that find their way into your system and threaten your business.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Exclusive: NZ-based DEFEND offers global cyber protection
DEFEND supports customers in 66 countries across the globe with a relentless focus on ensuring that every dollar spent on security provides a meaningful return on investment and reduces cyber risk.
AWS Marketplace
See how managed security services (MSS) have evolved to Managed Detection and Response (MDR) and Extended Detection and Response (XDR). Learn how these new holistic solutions can simplify security management and improve your threat detection and response.
Link image
Story image
Digital Transformation
Dear boardroom, please don’t put digital transformation back in the box
Australian companies are years ahead of where they would have been – a position that the country is poised to take advantage of to do great things. And one that it risks losing.
Story image
SaaS
Claroty launches new cloud-based industrial cybersecurity platform
The company says Claroty xDome is the industry's first solution to deliver the ease and scalability of SaaS without compromising on visibility, protection, and monitoring controls.
Story image
Gartner Magic Quadrant
Gartner positions Commvault as Leader in 2022 Magic Quadrant
Gartner has named Commvault a Leader in its 2022 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Backup and Recovery Software Solutions report.
Story image
Mergers and Acquisitions
Netskope acquires Infiot, delivers integrated SASE platform
Converged SASE platform provides AI-driven zero trust security and simplified, optimised connectivity to any network location or device, including IoT.
Story image
Malware
Avast One extends protection with Online Safety Score
Avast One has extended its cross-platform support by adding its Online Safety Score feature to both the Mac and iOS platforms of Avast One.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Palo Alto Networks responds to rise in threats with MDR service
Unit 42 Managed Detection and Response is a new service that can offer continuous 24/7 threat detection, investigation and response.