SonicWall rates 2016 successful for security experts and cybercriminals

2016 saw cyber criminals shift their focus to ransomware attacks which grew by 167x year-over-year

Tags: SonicWALL Incorporated
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SonicWall rates 2016 successful for security experts and cybercriminals  Cyber criminals garnered quick payoffs from ransomware, fuelled partly by the rise in ransomware-as-a-service
By  Aasha Bodhani Published  February 8, 2017

SonicWall's "Annual Threat Report" highlighted that whilst security professionals made notable achievements in 2016, cybercriminals also did.

SonicWall saw the volume of unique malware samples collected fall from 60 million compared with 64 million and total malware attack attempts dropped for the first time in years to 7.87 billion from 8.19 billion in 2015. However, cyber criminals garnered quick payoffs from ransomware, fuelled partly by the rise in ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS).

Bill Conner, president and CEO of SonicWall, said: "It would be inaccurate to say the threat landscape either diminished or expanded in 2016 - rather, it appears to have evolved and shifted. Cybersecurity is not a battle of attrition; it's an arms race, and both sides are proving exceptionally capable and innovative."

The report complied data collected throughout 2016 by the SonicWall Global Response Intelligence Defense (GRID) Threat Network with daily feeds from more than 1 million security sensors in nearly 200 countries and territories.

The findings showed that point-of-sale (POS) malware attacks declined by 93% from 2014 to 2016. SonicWall highlighted that the industry has seen the implementation of chip-based POS systems, usage of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DDS) checklist and other ongoing security measures.

As web traffic grew throughout 2016, so did SSL/TLS encryption, from 5.3 trillion web connections in 2015 to 7.3 trillion in 2016 according to the SonicWall GRID Threat Network. SonicWall states that whilst this is a positive move, caution is also needed as it can provide an uninspected and trusted backdoor into the network that cyber criminals can exploit to sneak in malware.

As 2016 began, the malware market was dominated by a handful of exploit kits, particularly Angler, Nuclear and Neutrino. However following the arrest of more than 50 Russian hackers for leveraging the Lurk Trojan to commit bank fraud, Angler exploits disappeared.

The SonicWall GRID detected an increase from 3.8 million ransomware attacks in 2015 to an astounding 638 million in 2016. The unprecedented growth of the malware was likely driven as well by easier access in the underground market, the low cost of conducting a ransomware attack, the ease of distributing it and the low risk of being caught or punished.

Internet of Things (IoT) devices were compromised on a massive scale due to poorly designed security features, opening the door for distributed denial-of-service attacks. With their integration into the core components of our businesses and lives, IoT devices provided an enticing attack vector for cyber criminals in 2016.

Gaps in IoT security enabled cyber thieves to launch the largest distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks in history in 2016, leveraging hundreds of thousands of IoT devices with weak telnet passwords to launch DDoS attacks using the Mirai botnet management framework.

SonicWall also discovered that Android devices saw increased security protections but remained vulnerable to attacks.

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