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Monday, 02 September 2019 12:08

Australia hit by 9.2 million malware attacks in just six months Featured

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Australia hit by 9.2 million malware attacks in just six months Image Stuart Miles, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Australia continues to be a malware target, with 9.2 million malware detections in the first half of 2019 - with malicious URLs also proving a popular form of attack, as the number of times a malicious URL was accessed reached 8.9 million, according to a new global security report.

And the report from security firm Trend Micro also reveals that business email compromise (BEC) remains a major threat, with Australian businesses encountering more than a quarter – or 27.2% - of the total number of BEC attempts globally.

Trend Micro also report that there has been a worldwide surge in fileless attacks designed to disguise malicious activity, with detections of the threat up 265% compared to the first half of 2018.

The security firm says the rise in fileless attacks confirm many of its predictions of last year that attackers are working smarter to target businesses and environments that will produce the greatest return on investment.

“We’re seeing an interesting phenomenon within the threat landscape - sophistication and stealth is now the name of the cybersecurity game, as both corporate technology and criminal attacks become more connected and smarter.” says Dr Jon Oliver, Director and Data Scientist, Trend Micro.

“The attacks aren’t necessarily more frequent, but attackers are using intentional and targeted attacks to maximise profitability through taking advantage of people, processes, and technology.

“Take ransomware for example. When it’s deployed as part of a strategic attack on a vulnerable industry, a business might find itself powerless. This is when a technology partner that can combine human expertise with advanced security technologies to better detect, correlate, respond to, and remediate threats is most needed.”

According to Trend Micro, along with the growth in fileless threats in the first half of the year, attackers are increasingly deploying threats that aren’t visible to traditional security filters, as they can be executed in a system’s memory, reside in the registry, or abuse legitimate tools.

On a global scale, cryptomining malware remained the most detected threat with attackers increasingly deploying these threats on servers and in cloud environments, Trend Micro reveals.

Substantiating another of its predictions, Trend Micro says the number of routers involved in possible inbound attacks jumped 64% compared to the first half of 2018, with more Mirai variants searching for exposed devices.

And additionally, digital extortion schemes soared by 319% from the second half of 2018 - which Trend Micro says aligns with previous projections – while ransomware-related files, emails and URLs also grew 77% over the same period.

In total, Trend Micro blocked more than 26.8 billion threats in the first half of 2019, over 6 billion more than the same period last year.

Trend Micro says that 91% of these threats entered the corporate network via email, and mitigating these advanced threats requires smart defence-in-depth that can correlate data from across gateways, networks, servers and endpoints to best identify and stop attacks.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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