• Monday, April 15, 2024
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IT security decision-makers raise concern over growing digital attacks

Information technology (IT) security decision-makers have raised concerns over growing digital attacks. About 73 percent of them are particularly worried about a 2180 percent increase in threats detected, according to a new report.

Leading cybersecurity provider, Trend Micro, recently released its mid-year report detailing the latest developments and trends in the cybersecurity space. One key finding is the continued increase in threat detections which have increased exponentially since the pandemic forced increased digitalisation.

Rapid digitalization, according to the report, is cause for major concern with 43 percent of security decision-makers arguing that the digital attack surface is spiralling out of control while 37 percent describe it as constantly evolving and messy.

Trend Micro notes that, in light of the challenges faced by IT professionals, there is a need for improved investment and understanding of the cyber attack landscape. It lists the top 5 insights from the first half of 2022.

One of such insight is that old favourites make a comeback. The company explains that while new malware tends to receive the lion’s share of the spotlight, old favourites in the first half of 2022 saw a significant resurgence of commodity malware Emotet.

“Despite its infrastructure being taken down in 2021, detections of the botnet increased from 13,811 in H1 2021 to 148,701 in H1 2022. Researchers from Advintel named Conti, a prominent Malware-as-a-service (MaaS) group is responsible for the growth in detections,” the company said.

The second trend is that malicious actors turn their attention to Ukraine, meaning that cyber warfare is a burgeoning trend with prominent groups launching attacks on Ukrainian targets before and during the conflict with Russia. In addition to this, other threat actors are targeting individuals outside of the conflict, capitalising on curiosity and sympathy.

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Trend Micro notes further that, turning their attention away from dwindling interest in Covid-19, many of the security decision-makers are now using requests for donations as a guise for their spam emails.

“According to a recent report from Interpol placed online, scams through text messages and email top the list of most prominent threats in Africa. This is supported by Trend Micro’s regional statistics for H1 2022 which shows well over 2.4 million blocked mails in the region, 5 percent of which came from top contributor, South Africa,” it said.

The third trend, according to Trend Micro is that Ransomware as a service grows in popularity. It explains that Ransomware as a service (RaaS) continues to grow as a threat with LockBit, Conti, and BlackCat at the helm.

This profitable approach to cybercrime allows would-be cybercriminals to access tools and infrastructure that otherwise would not have been available to them. The RaaS system places the responsibility of infection on affiliates, providing developers with a layer of protection and additional time in which to evolve their malware. The growing popularity of this approach is largely responsible for the 2.5 million detections worldwide, of which nearly 200 thousand occurred in Africa.

Linux becoming a Prime Target is yet another trend according to Trend Micro’s finding. Linux systems, according to the company, have become an attractive option for malicious actors looking to concentrate on servers and embedded systems, both areas where Linux is expected to see growth in the next few years.

The new focus on the operating system became clear in H1 2022 which saw a 75 percent increase in Ransomware attacks targeting Linux machines. This emerging trend is concerning to organisations as targeted infrastructure forms part of their critical infrastructure and successful attacks have the potential to deal significant damage.

Cloud-based attacks remain a top concern and that too is part of the trends as discovered by Trend Micro. Investment in cloud computing in Africa has continued to grow, particularly among South African SMEs.

The same research claims that 80 percent of companies report positive operational changes within the first few months. However, these same advantages can also present security challenges. Top of this list are cloud tunnelling and containers.

While cloud tunnelling allows users to swiftly deploy assets and services, it can also prevent full visibility of the deployed assets. Trend Micro found attackers are taking advantage of this by launching attacks in unconventional places where IT teams tend not to look.