Mobile devices targeted as cyberattacks increase by 13%
Research from European managed security services provider Orange Cyberdefense has revealed a 13% increase in cyberattacks on enterprises over the past 12 months, with a rise in ransomware incidents and, for the first time, a noticeable wave of attacks against mobile devices.
This is according to the Orange Security Navigator 2022, which provides a detailed analysis of more than 50 billion security events analysed daily over the past year (October 2020 to October 2021) by Orange Cyberdefense’s 18 Security Operation Centres (SOCs) and 14 CyberSOCs across the globe.
Of the 94,806 incidents flagged as being potential threats, analyst investigation confirmed 34,156 (36%) to be legitimate security incidents - a 13% increase on the year before.
More than a third (38%) of all confirmed security incidents were classified as malware, including ransomware - an increase of 18% on 2020.
The report found that almost two thirds (64%) of the security alerts dealt with by Orange Cyberdefense analysts turned out to be ‘noise’ and did not represent a genuine threat – an increase of 5% on the previous year.
The findings suggest that many organisations, particularly small and medium sized businesses, will require more resources to filter this massive amount of data for potential threats. The risk is that these businesses will become increasingly vulnerable to attack as the level and volume of activity continues to rise.
The Security Navigator also reports that mobile operating systems like iOS and Android in a business context are an increasingly popular target for exploits. Many of the activities appear to be related to commercial companies contracted by law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
However, the vulnerabilities and exploits developed will likely not stay in that realm, but have in the past and will likely in the future find their way into the criminal ecosystem as well (mind the WannaCry attack of 2017).
Orange Cyberdefense predicts attacks targeting mobile devices are likely to continue on this upward trajectory. This is a development that security professionals will need to pay closer attention to.
Mobile platforms are key in modern access protection concepts, namely multi-factor authentication (MFA), which is commonly used in corporate environments to protect cloud access for instance.
Another key finding of the new Security Navigator is that malware, including ransomware, was the most common type of threat reported across the analysis period, with 38% of all confirmed security incidents classified as malware - an increase of 18% on 2020.
Among the key malware trends are:
• A decrease in confirmed downloader activity (malware that downloads and runs other malware on affected systems) in November and December 2020 after the Trickbot botnet was taken down by law enforcement, and in January and February 2021, directly after Emotet was taken down;
• An inverse correlation between the stringency of Covid-19 lockdowns and the volumes of downloader and ransomware activity: the more stringent the lockdowns, the less of this activity, running contrary to the prevailing narrative that attacks increase when users work from home;
• Large organisations see more than double (43%) the amount of confirmed malware incidents than medium-sized businesses.
Hugues Foulon, CEO of Orange Cyberdefense, said: “Attacks like Solorigate show that even trusted software from reliable vendors can turn into a trojan horse for cunning attackers. Technology alone cannot be the solution to this problem. As our data shows, we have seen a 13% increase in the number of incidents in just one year, and these incidents keep increasing year on year. A large proportion of the tech-driven security alerts that our analysts deal with are just noise but this puts a tremendous strain on already stretched IT and security teams. Indeed, not all businesses have the means or resources to employ managed security services providers to help them sift through the ‘noise’ and find the actionable security ‘signals’. We thus believe that security technologies can, and must, do better.”
South Africa targeted
South Africa ranks among the top 30 most targeted countries for malware attacks and top 20 for COVID-19 -related email threats, according to Trend Micro’s biannual cybersecurity report, The Attacks From All Angles 2021 Mid-year Cybersecurity Report.
In a virtual presentation of the research, Zaheer Ebrahim, Cyber Security Consultant at Trend Micro, examined South Africa’s vulnerabilities to encourage increased cybersecurity defence measures amidst a 47% year-on-year increase in cyber threats globally.
The report highlighted a 47% year-on-year increase in email threats as well as malicious files and URLs in the first quarter of 2021 globally.