Targeted ransomware attacks surge in 2018: Report

PUNE: 2018 saw the advancement of hand-delivered, targeted ransomware attacks that are earning cybercriminals millions of dollars, according to the Sophos 2019 Threat Report. The report, produced by SophosLabs researchers found that capitalist cybercriminals are turning to targeted ransomware attacks that are premeditated and reaping millions of dollars in ransom.

The threat report explores changes in the threat landscape over the past 12 months, uncovering trends and how they are expected to impact cybersecurity in 2019.“The threat landscape is undoubtedly evolving; less skilled cyber criminals are being forced out of business, the fittest among them step up their game to survive and we’ll eventually be left with fewer, but smarter and stronger, adversaries. These new cybercriminals are effectively a cross-breed of the once esoteric, targeted attacker, and the pedestrian purveyor of off-the-shelf malware, using manual hacking techniques, not for espionage or sabotage, but to maintain their dishonorable income streams, said Joe Levy, CTO, Sophos.

The report also highlighted that cybercriminals are using readily available Windows systems administration tools as their route to advance through a system and complete their mission – whether it’s to steal sensitive information off the server or drop ransomware.
Other key trends include:
* Cybercriminals are playing digital dominos by chaining together a sequence of different script types that execute an attack at the end of the event series, hackers can instigate a chain reaction before IT managers detect a threat is operational on the network, and once they break in it’s difficult to stop the payload from executing.

* Cybercriminals have adopted newer Office exploits to lure in victims

* EternalBlue becomes a key tool for cryptojacking attacks with the coupling of EternalBlue to cryptomining software turning the activity from a nuisance hobby into a potentially lucrative criminal career.

The continued threat of mobile and IoT malware extends beyond the organization’s infrastructure. With illegal Android apps on the increase, 2018 has seen an increased focus in malware being pushed to phones, tablets and other IoT devices. As homes and businesses adopt more internet-connected devices, criminals have been devising new ways to hijack those devices to use as nodes in huge botnet attacks.

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