Colin Mc Hugo

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Colin Mc Hugo
Security Engineer Manager & CEO at Quantum Infinite Solutions Group Ltd.

ESET Threat Report Q4 2020

February 9, 2021

A view of the This fall 2020 menace panorama as seen by ESET telemetry and from the attitude of ESET menace detection and analysis specialists

2020 was many issues (“typical” not being one in all them), and it positive feels good to be writing about it previously tense.

As if actually attempting to show some extent, the pandemic picked up new steam within the final quarter, bringing the biggest waves of infections and additional lockdowns world wide. Amid the chaos, the long-anticipated vaccine rollouts introduced a collective sigh of aid – or, at the least, a glimmer of hope someplace within the not-too-far-distant future.

In our on-line world, occasions additionally took a dramatic flip in the direction of the top of the yr, as information of the SolarWinds supply-chain assault swept throughout the trade. With many high-profile victims, the incident is a stark reminder of the potential scope and impression of these kinds of assaults, that are additionally exceedingly troublesome to detect and stop.

Whereas not all as earthshaking because the SolarWinds hack, supply-chain assaults have gotten a serious pattern: in This fall alone, ESET uncovered as many as the entire sector noticed yearly only a few years again. And – seeing how a lot cybercriminals have to realize from them – their numbers are solely anticipated to proceed rising sooner or later.

Fortunately, nevertheless, menace actors should not the one ones on the offensive. In October 2020, ESET took half in a world disruption marketing campaign concentrating on TrickBot, one of many largest and longest-lived botnets. Because of the mixed efforts of all who participated on this operation, TrickBot took a heavy blow with 94% of its servers taken down in a single week.

With earn a living from home being the brand new regular in lots of sectors – one of many largest shifts introduced by the pandemic – the large 768% progress of RDP assaults between Q1 and This fall 2020 comes as no shock. Because the safety of distant work improves, the increase in these kinds of assaults is predicted to decelerate – for which we already noticed some indicators in This fall. One of the urgent causes to concentrate to RDP safety is ransomware, generally deployed via RDP exploits, and posing an awesome threat to each non-public and public sectors.

In This fall 2020,  the ultimatums made by ransomware gangs had been extra aggressive than ever, with menace actors demanding most likely the very best ransom quantities to this point. And whereas Maze, a pioneer of mixing ransomware assaults and the specter of doxing, closed up store in This fall, different menace actors added increasingly more aggressive strategies to extend strain on their victims. Seeing the turbulent developments on the ransomware scene all through 2020, there may be nothing to recommend these rampant assaults is not going to proceed in 2021.

The expansion of ransomware might need been an essential issue within the decline of banking malware; a decline that solely intensified during the last quarter of the yr. Ransomware and different malicious actions are merely extra worthwhile than banking malware, the operators of which already must grapple with the heightening safety within the banking sector. There was, nevertheless, one exception to this pattern: Android banking malware registered the very best detection ranges of 2020 in This fall, fueled by the supply code leak of the trojan Cerberus.

With the pandemic creating fertile floor for every kind of malicious actions, it’s all however apparent that e mail scammers wouldn’t need to be disregarded. Our telemetry confirmed COVID-19 used as lures in illicit emails all through all of 2020. This fall additionally noticed the rise in vaccine scams used as lures, a pattern that’s anticipated to proceed in 2021.

In a improvement much like the cryptocurrency increase of 2017, the worth of bitcoin skyrocketed on the finish of this yr. This was accompanied by a slight enhance in cryptominer detections, the primary since October 2018. If cryptocurrencies proceed their progress, we will count on to see cryptocurrency-targeting malware, phishing and scams turn out to be extra prevalent.

The ultimate quarter of 2020 was additionally wealthy in analysis findings, with ESET Analysis uncovering numerous supply-chain assaults: a Lazarus assault in South Korea, a Mongolian supply-chain assault named Operation StealthyTrident, and the Operation SignSight provide‑chain assault in opposition to a certification authority in Vietnam. Our researchers additionally found Crutch – a beforehand undocumented backdoor by Turla – and XDSpy, an APT group covertly working at the least since 2011.

ESET continues to actively contribute to the MITRE ATT&CK information base, which noticed 5 ESET entries added within the October replace. And, as at all times, ESET researchers took a number of alternatives to share their experience at numerous digital conferences this quarter, talking at Black Hat Asia, AVAR, CODE BLUE, and plenty of others.

The This fall 2020 Risk Report presents not solely an outline of the This fall menace panorama, but additionally commentary on the broader traits noticed all through 2020 in addition to predictions for 2021 by ESET malware analysis and detection specialists. For these particularly taken with ESET analysis updates, the report additionally supplies beforehand unpublished data relating to APT group operations, comparable to Operation In(ter)ception, InvisiMole, PipeMon, and extra.

Observe ESET research on Twitter for normal updates on key traits and prime threats.

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