Cryptomining dethrones ransomware as top threat in 2018

Based on trends in the first half of 2018, Webroot found that cybercriminals are shifting to increasingly sophisticated and targeted means of attack while also expanding their money making endeavors, as shown by the uptick in cryptojacking and cryptomining.

cryptomining top threat

The current threat landscape

There has been a massive shift from ransomware to cryptomining

  • Malware in general, including ransomware and cryptomining, accounted for 52 percent of threats in the first half of 2018.
  • Nonconsensual cryptomining (known as cryptojacking) uses the victim’s computer processing power to mine cryptocurrency. Cyrptomining at large is on track to consume an estimated three percent of the world’s electricity by 2020, according to block chain specialist Alex de Vries.

Cryptojacking scripts are on the rise

  • Cryptojacking—the malicious browser scripts that hijack website visitors’ CPU power to mine cryptocurrency—accounted for 35 percent of threats.
  • Of the many millions of URL requests Webroot sees each day, customers attempted to visit sites running cryptojacking scripts approximately 3 percent of the time.
  • Xxgasm tops the list of most popular cryptomining domains, garnering 31 percent of traffic. Coinhive was not far behind with 28 percent of traffic.

Windows 10 adoption increases

75 percent of consumers and 40 percent of businesses have shifted to more the secure Windows 10 operating system, as compared to 72 percent of consumers and 32 percent of businesses making the change at the beginning of the year.

Ransomware attacks exploit unsecured RDP to find the most valuable targets

Criminals are seeking out unsecured Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) connections as an attack vector, both to access and infect systems and to perform reconnaissance. Criminals can also buy access to systems known to have unsecured RDP on the dark web.

Phishing attempts skyrocket and Dropbox is now primary target for phishing attacks

  • Phishing attempts increased by more than 60 percent from January to June 2018.
  • Dropbox overtook Google in the first half of 2018 as the most impersonated company for phishing attacks, accounting for 17 percent of phishing emails.
  • In addition to revealing sensitive consumer and business data, such as financial accounts, personal information, and corporate intellectual property, accessing a business’ Dropbox can expose cryptokeys, potentially unlocking a massive amount of mission-critical and highly sensitive data.

Businesses are realizing the necessity for security awareness training programs

Due to the large numbers of cybersecurity threats in 2018, employee security awareness is becoming a key component in organizations’ security strategy. Research proves that risk decreases as more security awareness training and phishing attack simulations are implemented:

  • Companies that ran one to five campaigns saw a 33 percent phishing click-through rate.
  • For companies that ran 6–10 campaigns, the click-through rate dropped to 28 percent.
  • For companies that ran 11 or more campaigns, click-through rates decreased to only 13 percent.

“Cybercriminals display an amazing ability to adapt to maximize their profits. Businesses need to adopt the same nimble mindset toward their cybersecurity. They need to continually reassess risks, adopt a multi-layered approach, and, ultimately, educate their employees about the latest threats on an ongoing basis,” said Tyler Moffitt, Senior Threat Research Analyst, Webroot.

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