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Ransomware Not Gone but More Targeted, Report Says

Ransomware Not Gone but More Targeted, Report Says

Cyber-criminals continue to grow more sophisticated, developing advanced attack methods, including tailored ransomware, according to the Q1 Global Threat Landscape Report, published today by Fortinet. In addition to targeted attacks, criminals are also using custom coding, living-off-the-land (LotL) and sharing infrastructure to maximize their opportunities, the report said.

Despite a decline in previous high rates of ransomware, ransomware itself is far from gone. Instead, cyber-criminals are using more targeted attacks. Ransomware “is being customized for high-value targets and to give the attacker privileged access to the network. LockerGoga is an example of a targeted ransomware conducted in a multi-stage attack. There is little about LockerGoga that sets it apart from other ransomware in terms of functional sophistication, but while most ransomware tools use some level of obfuscation to avoid detection, there was little of it used when analyzed,” the report said.

Researchers also detected an uptick in malicious actors leveraging dual-use tools, preinstalled on targeted systems to carry out cyber-attacks. 

The report noted the trend of shared infrastructure. Researchers detected a rise in the total malware and botnet communication activity, as well as the number of domains shared between threats at each stage of the kill chain.

“Nearly 60% of threats shared at least one domain indicating the majority of botnets leverage established infrastructure. IcedID is an example of this 'why buy or build when you can borrow' behavior. In addition, when threats share infrastructure they tend to do so within the same stage in the kill chain. It is unusual for a threat to leverage a domain for exploitation and then later leverage it for C2 traffic. This suggests infrastructure plays a particular role or function when used for malicious campaigns,” the report said.

“We, unfortunately, continue to see the cyber-criminal community mirror the strategies and methodologies of nation-state actors, and the evolving devices and networks they are targeting,” said Phil Quade, chief information security officer, Fortinet, in a press release.

“Organizations need to rethink their strategy to better future-proof and manage cyber risks. An important first step involves treating cybersecurity more like a science – doing the fundamentals really well – which requires leveraging the cyberspace fundamentals of speed and connectivity for defense. Embracing a fabric approach to security, micro and macro segmentation and leveraging machine learning and automation as the building blocks of AI can provide tremendous opportunity to force our adversaries back to square one.”

Source: Information Security Magazine