WatchGuard’s Internet Security Report Finds Malware Hiding on Popular Content Delivery Networks
September 2019 by WatchGuard Technologies
WatchGuard’s® latest quarterly Internet Security Report reveals and ranks the most common domains attackers use to host malware and launch phishing attacks. These 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.
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.
WatchGuard 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, chief technology officer 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 recognise 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.”
WatchGuard’s Internet Security Report provides real-world data on top security threats, as well as detailed analyses of major security incidents and best practices to help organisations of all sizes protect their business and their customers’ data. Other key findings include:
· 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.
WatchGuard’s Internet Security Report is based on anonymised Firebox Feed data from a subset of active WatchGuard UTM appliances whose owners have opted in to share data to support the Threat Lab’s research efforts. Today, 41,229 appliances throughout the world contribute to the Internet Security Report data pool. In total, those appliances blocked more than 22,619,836 malware variants, at a rate of 549 samples per device. Additionally, those Firebox appliances prevented 2,265,425 network attacks (60 per device), a significant increase from Q1 2019 that runs counter to past trends in network attack volume.
The complete report includes more detailed statistics on the most impactful malware and network attack trends from Q2 2019, an analysis of the RobbinHood ransomware attack that paralyzed the city of Baltimore in May 2019 and cost approximately $17 million in total damages, and advice and best practices that readers can use to better protect themselves and their organizations.
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.