Cyber attacks are becoming more organized and structured
Trustwave released the 2018 Trustwave Global Security Report which reveals the top security threats, breaches by industry, and cybercrime trends from 2017. The report is derived from the analysis of billions of logged security and compromise events worldwide, hundreds of hands-on data-beach investigations and internal research.
Findings depict improvement in areas such as intrusion to detection however, also showed increased sophistication in malware obfuscation, social engineering tactics, and advanced persistent threats.
North America and retail lead in data breaches
Although slightly down from the previous year, North America still leads in data breaches investigated by Trustwave at 43% followed by the Asia Pacific region at 30%, Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) at 23% and Latin America at 4%. The retail sector suffered the most breach incidences at 16.7% followed by the finance and insurance industry at 13.1% and hospitality at 11.9%.
Compromise and environment type matters
Half of the incidents investigated involved corporate and internal networks (up from 43% in 2016) followed by e-commerce environments at 30%. Incidents impacting point-of-sale (POS) systems decreased by more than a third to 20% of the total. This is reflective of increased attack sophistication and targeting of larger service providers and franchise head offices and less on smaller high-volume targets in previous years.
Social engineering tops methods of compromise
In corporate network environments, phishing and social engineering at 55% was the leading method of compromise followed by malicious insiders at 13% and remote access at 9%. This indicates the human factor remains the greatest hurdle for corporate cybersecurity teams. “CEO fraud”, a social engineering scam encouraging executives to authorize fraudulent money transactions continues to increase.
All web applications found to be vulnerable
One hundred percent of web applications tested displayed at least one vulnerability with 11 as the median number detected per application. 85.9% of web application vulnerabilities involved session management allowing an attacker to eavesdrop on a user session to commandeer sensitive information.
Web attacks becoming more targeted
Targeted web attacks are becoming prevalent and much more sophisticated. Many breach incidents show signs of careful preplanning by cybercriminals probing for weak packages and tools to exploit. Cross-site scripting (XSS) was involved in 40% of attack attempts, followed by SQL Injection (SQLi) at 24%, Path Traversal at 7%, Local File Inclusion (LFI) at 4%, and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) at 3%.
Malware using persistence techniques
Although 30% of malware examined used obfuscation to avoid detection and bypass first line defenses, 90% used persistence techniques to reload after reboot.
Service providers are now in the crosshairs
Of great concern is a marked increase at 9.5% in compromises targeting businesses that provides IT services including web-hosting providers, POS integrators and help-desk providers. A compromise of just one provider opens the gates to a multitude of new targets. In 2016, service provider compromises did not register in the statistics.
Large disparity when breaches are detected internally versus externally
The median time between intrusion and detection for externally detected compromises was 83 days in 2017, a stark increase from 65 days in 2016. Median time between intrusion and detection for compromises discovered internally however, dropped to zero days in 2017 from 16 days in 2016, meaning businesses discovered the majority of breaches the same day they happened.
Payment card data is still king
Down from the previous year, payment card data at 40% still reigns supreme in terms of data types targeted in a breach. The figure is split between magnetic stripe data at 22% and card-not-present (CNP) at 18%. Surprisingly, incidents targeting hard cash is on the rise at 11% mostly due to fraudulent ATM transaction breaches enabled by compromise of account management systems at financial institutions.
Necurs keeps malware-laced spam high
Several major Necurs botnet campaigns for propagating ransomware (including WannaCry), banking trojans and other damaging payloads kept spam containing malware high at 26%, down from 34.6% in 2016. Interestingly, more than 90% of spam-borne malware are delivered inside archive file such as .zip, .7z and RAR, typically labeled as invoices or other types of business files.
Database and network security, a year of critical patching
The number of vulnerabilities patched in five of the most common database products was 119, down from 170 in 2016. Fifty three percent of computers with SMBv1 enabled were vulnerable to MS17-010 “ETERNALBLUE” exploits used to disseminate the WannaCry and NotPetya ransomware attacks.
The 2018 Trustwave Global Security Report, the tenth addition of the report, also offers a ten-year retrospective of cybersecurity trends. Key highlights include:
Vulnerabilities have seen a sharp surge – After remaining relatively level from 2008 to 2011, a marked increase in vulnerability disclosures began in 2012 with a dramatic spike in 2017. This is in part due to the doubling of internet users over the course of a decade. The technically savvy, including both security researchers and criminals, are now actively looking for vulnerabilities with the latter selling corresponding exploits on the dark web to make hefty profits. More vulnerabilities equate to greater potential for exploitations.
Exploit kits, from boom to bust – Starting in 2006 with Web Attacker, exploit kits for providing a means for non-technical attackers to infect computers, saw a dramatic rise eventually evolving into a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model in 2010 with prices ranging from $50 to $10,000 per month and flourished between 2013 and 2015. In 2016 to present, after several arrests and the disappearance of the top three kits, the exploit kit market sits dormant. Look for resurgence as serious players eventually surface to drive new demand in a once lucrative market.
Spam on the decline – Accounting for more than 87.2% of all incoming mail monitored by Trustwave, 2009 ranks as the worst year for spam. After 2009, spam activity has decreased each year and currently sits at less than 40% of all incoming email. Today, a small number of criminal gangs using botnets to distribute malware control most spam.