WatchGuard Technologies’ latest Internet Security Report shows that 67% of all malware in Q1 2020 was delivered via encrypted HTTPS connections and that 72% of encrypted malware was classified as zero day, so on that basis would have evaded signature-based anti-virus protection.
These findings show that, without HTTPS inspection of encrypted traffic and advanced behaviour-based threat detection and response, organisations are missing up to two-thirds of incoming threats. The report also highlights the finding that the UK was a top target for cyber criminals in Q1, earning a spot in the Top Three countries for the five most widespread network attacks.
“Some organisations are reluctant to set up HTTPS inspection due to the extra work involved, but our threat data clearly shows that a majority of malware is delivered through encrypted connections and that letting traffic go uninspected is simply no longer an option,” said Corey Nachreiner, chief technology officer at WatchGuard. “As malware continues to become more advanced and evasive, the only reliable approach towards defence is implementing a set of layered security services, including advanced threat detection methods and HTTPS inspection.”
Other key findings from WatchGuard’s latest Internet Security Report include:
Monero cryptominers surge in popularity Five of the Top Ten domains distributing malware in Q1 (identified by WatchGuard’s DNS filtering service DNSWatch) either hosted or controlled Monero cryptominers. This sudden jump in cryptominer popularity could simply be due to its utility. Adding a cryptomining module to malware is an easy way for online criminals to generate passive income
Flawed-Ammyy and Cryxos malware variants join top lists The Cryxos trojan was third on WatchGuard’s Top Five encrypted malware list and also third on its Top Five most widespread malware detections list, primarily targeting Hong Kong. It’s delivered as an e-mail attachment disguised as an invoice and will ask the user to enter their e-mail and password which it stores. Flawed-Ammyy is a support scam where the attacker uses the Ammyy Admin support software to gain remote access to the victim’s computer
Three-year-old Adobe vulnerability appears in top network attacks An Adobe Acrobat Reader exploit that was patched in August 2017 appeared in WatchGuard’s top network attacks list for the first time in Q1 of this year. This vulnerability resurfacing several years after being discovered and resolved illustrates the importance of regularly patching and updating systems
Mapp Engage, AT&T and Bet365 targeted with spear phishing campaigns Three new domains hosting phishing campaigns appeared on WatchGuard’s Top Ten list in Q1 2020. They impersonated digital marketing and analytics product Mapp Engage, online betting platform Bet365 (this campaign was in Chinese) and an AT&T login page (this campaign is no longer active at the time of the report’s publication)
COVID-19 impact Q1 2020 was only the start of the massive changes to the cyber threat landscape brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Even in the first three months of 2020, WatchGuard still saw a massive rise in remote workers and attacks targeting individuals
Malware hits and network attacks decline Overall, there were 6.9% fewer malware hits and 11.6% fewer network attacks in Q1, despite a 9% increase in the number of Fireboxes contributing data. This could be attributed to fewer potential targets operating within the traditional network perimeter with worldwide work-from-home policies in full force during the COVID-19 pandemic
The findings in WatchGuard’s Internet Security Reports are drawn from anonymised Firebox Feed data from active WatchGuard appliances whose owners have opted in to share data to support the Threat Lab’s research efforts. Over 44,000 appliances worldwide contribute threat intelligence data to the report. In Q1 2020, they blocked over 32,148,519 malware variants in total (730 samples per device) and more than 1,660,000 network attacks (38 attacks per device).
The complete report includes key defensive Best Practices that organisations of all sizes can use to protect themselves in today’s threat landscape and a detailed analysis of how the COVID-19 pandemic and associated shift to working from home affected the cyber security landscape.
*To view the full report visit Internet Security Report for Q1 2020