Cyber arms race continues to escalate, says SonicWall

Threat volumes increase and attacks gain complexity, according to Cyber Threat Report

Tags: Cyber crimeEncryptionMalwareSonicWALL Incorporated
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Cyber arms race continues to escalate, says SonicWall Organisations across all sectors need to coordinate efforts and share intelligence to combat cybercrime, says Conner.
By  Mark Sutton Published  March 11, 2018

Cyber attacks are becoming the number one risk to business, brands, operations and financials, according to security company SonicWall. The company's 2018 Cyber Threat Report shows a rise in the number of cyberattacks, and increasing complexity in both threats and threat mitigation.

In total, there were 9.32 billion malware attacks in 2017, an 18.4% increase from 2016. More complex malware and the use of encryption to hide malware was also up.

"The cyber arms race affects every government, business, organisation and individual. It cannot be won by any one of us," said SonicWall CEO Bill Conner. "Our latest proprietary data and findings show a series of strategic attacks and countermeasures as the cyber arms race continues to escalate. By sharing actionable intelligence, we collectively improve our business and security postures against today's most malicious threats and criminals.

"The risks to business, privacy and related data grow by the day - so much so that cybersecurity is outranking some of the more traditional business risks and concerns," said Conner.

SonicWall noted that the volume of ransomware attacks dropped in 2017, but the amount of ransomware variants increased.

Attacks that use a mix of components from different malware is also putting a strain on signature-only security controls.

The amount of web traffic encrypted by SSL/TLS standards made a significant jump in 2017, SonicWall said, but this has been accompanied with an increase in encrypted malware, with some reports suggesting as much as 41% of attack or malicious traffic now leverages encryption for obfuscation. Organisations are beginning to implement security controls, such as deep packet inspection (DPI) of SSL/TLS traffic, to responsibly inspect, detect and mitigate attacks in encrypted traffic.

In terms of attacks against applications, with most browsers dropping support of Adobe Flash, no critical flash vulnerabilities were discovered in 2017, however, attacks against other applications increased, including a 13% increase in attacks on Microsoft Edge, and attacks against Microsoft Office and Apple TV reaching the top ten for the first time.

The report also noted that law enforcement efforts against cybercrime are becoming more effective. Key arrests of cybercriminals continued to help disrupt malware supply chains and impact the rise of new would-be hackers and authors, and co-operation between national and international law enforcement agencies is strengthening the disruption of global cyber threats.

At the same time, cybercriminals are being more careful with how they conduct business, including dynamic cryptocurrency wallets and using different transaction currencies.

"Stabilizing the cyber arms race requires the responsible, transparent and agile collaboration between governments, law enforcement and the private sector," said the Honorable Michael Chertoff, Chairman of the Chertoff Group, and former US Secretary of Homeland Security. "Like we witnessed in 2017, joint efforts deliver a hard-hitting impact to cybercriminals and threat actors. This diligence helps disrupt the development and deployment of advanced exploits and payloads, and also deters future criminals from engaging in malicious activity against well-meaning organizations, governments, businesses and individuals."

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