Year-over-year malware volume increased by 64%

The most common domains attackers use to host malware and launch phishing attacks include several subdomains of legitimate sites and Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) such as CloudFlare.net, CloudFront.net (which belongs to Amazon), SharePoint and Amazonaws.com, along with legitimate file-sharing websites like my[.]mixtape[.]moe, according to WatchGuard.

malware volume

The report for Q2 2019 also highlights that modules from the popular Kali Linux penetration testing tool made the top ten malware list for the first time.

Trojan.GenericKD, which covers a family of malware that creates a backdoor to a command-and-control server, and Backdoor.Small.DT, a web shell script used to create backdoors on web servers, were sixth and seventh on the list. This could indicate either growing adoption among malicious actors or more penetration testing by white hat hackers using Kali Linux.

The research shows that year-over-year malware volume increased by 64% and that it is increasingly targeting Europe and APAC. According to the report, in Q2 2019, nearly 37% of malware targeted the EMEA region, with several individual attacks focusing on the UK, Italy and Germany.

APAC came in second, targeted by 36% of overall malware attacks. In particular, the Razy and Trojan.Phishing. MH malware variants primarily targeted the APAC region, with 11% of Trojan.Phishing.MH detections found in Japan.

“This edition of the Internet Security Report exposes the gritty details of the methods hackers use to sneak malware or phishing emails onto networks by hiding them on legitimate content hosting domains,” said Corey Nachreiner, CTO at WatchGuard Technologies.

“Luckily there are several ways to defend against this, including DNS-level filtering to block connections to known malicious websites, advanced anti-malware services, multi-factor authentication to prevent attacks leveraging compromised credentials, and training to help employees recognize phishing emails.

“No one defence will prevent every attack, so the best way for organisations to protect themselves is with a unified security platform that offers multiple layered security services.”

Widespread phishing and Office exploit malware increases

Two pieces of malware – a phishing attack that threatens to release fake compromising information on the victim, and a Microsoft Office exploit – that appeared on the most widespread malware list in Q1 2019 and Q4 2018 have graduated to the top ten list by volume.

This illustrates that these campaigns are on the rise and are sending a high volume of attacks at a wide range of targets. Users should update Office regularly and invest in anti-phishing and DNS filtering security solutions.

SQL injection dominates network attacks

SQL injection attacks made up 34% of all network attacks detected in Q2 2019 and have increased significantly in volume year-over-year. One specific attack increased over 29,000% from Q2 2018 to Q2 2019. Anyone who maintains a SQL database, or a web server with access to one, should patch systems regularly and invest in a web application firewall.

Analysis of MSP Sodinokibi ransomware attacks

The report also contains a detailed analysis of the actual malware used in the Sodinokibi MSP ransomware attacks.

The WatchGuard Threat Lab’s research shows that the attackers leveraged weak, stolen, or leaked credentials to gain administrative access to legitimate management tools that these MSPs used to monitor and manage their clients’ networks, then used these tools to disable security controls and stage and deliver the Sodinokibi ransomware via PowerShell.

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Year-over-year malware volume increased by 64%