News, Security

Poor cybersecurity hygiene, risky apps enable destructive attacks

Fortinet has announced the findings of its latest Global Threat Landscape Report, which revealed that poor cybersecurity hygiene and risky application usage enables destructive worm-like attacks to take advantage of hot exploits at record speed.

Adversaries are spending less time developing ways to break in, and instead are focusing on leveraging automated and intent-based tools to infiltrate with more impact to business continuity.

“The technology innovation that powers our digital economy creates opportunity for good and bad in cybersecurity. Yet, something we don’t talk about often enough is the opportunity everyone has to limit bad consequences by employing consistent and effective cybersecurity hygiene,” said Phil Quade, chief information security officer, Fortinet.

He added that cybercriminals aren’t breaking into systems using new zero day attacks, they are primarily exploiting already discovered vulnerabilities. “This means they can spend more of their resources on technical innovations making their exploits difficult to detect. Newer worm-like capabilities spread infections at a rapid pace and can scale more easily across platforms or vectors. Intent-based security approaches that leverage the power of automation and integration are critical to combat this new ‘normal’.”

The study further highlighted that Crime-as-a-Service infrastructure and autonomous attack tools enable adversaries to easily operate on a global scale.

Threats like WannaCry were remarkable for how fast they spread and for their ability to target a wide range of industries. Yet, they could have been largely prevented if more organisations practiced consistent cyber hygiene. Unfortunately, adversaries are still seeing a lot of success in using hot exploits for their attacks that have not been patched or updated. To complicate matters more, once a particular threat is automated, attackers are no longer limited to targeting specific industries, therefore, their impact and leverage only increases over time.

Phil Quade, Fortinet
Phil Quade, Fortinet

Ransomworms are on the rise, with both WannaCry and NotPetya targeted a vulnerability that only had a patch available for a couple of months. Organisations who were spared from these attacks tended to have one of two things in common. They had either deployed security tools that had been updated to detect attacks targeting this vulnerability, and/or they applied the patch when it became available. Prior to WannaCry and NotPetya, network worms had taken a hiatus over the last decade.

It also revealed that more than two-thirds of firms experienced high or critical exploits in Q2 2017. 90 percent of organisations recorded exploits for vulnerabilities that were three or more years old. Nearly 44 percent of all exploit attempts occurred on either Saturday or Sunday. The average daily volume on weekends was twice that of weekdays.

The Fortinet report also showed that speed and efficiency are business critical in the digital economy, which means that there is zero tolerance for any device or system downtime. As usage and configuration of technology such as applications, networks, and devices evolves, so do the exploit, malware, and botnet tactics of cybercriminals.

Cybercriminals are ready and able to exploit weakness or opportunities in these new technologies or services. In particular, business-questionable software usage and the vulnerable IoT devices of hyperconnected networks represent potential risk because they are not being consistently managed, updated, or replaced. In addition, while good for Internet privacy and security, encrypted Web traffic also presents a challenge to many defensive tools that have poor visibility into encrypted communications.

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