Cyber attacks hit businesses once every three minutes

5 April 2013
By Sofia Mitra-Thakur
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On average, companies experience a malware event once every three minutes

On average, companies experience a malware event once every three minutes

Companies experience cyber attacks up to once every three minutes, a report says.

The report by security vendor FireEye shows that malware activity has become so pervasive that organisations experience a malicious email file attachment or web link as well as malware communication that slips through legacy defences up to once every three minutes.

The Advanced Threat Report gathered data from 89 million malware events and direct intelligence to provide a global look into cyber attacks including evolving advanced persistent threat (APT) tactics that routinely bypass traditional defences such as firewalls, next-generation firewalls, IPS, anti-virus, and security gateways.

“This report provides an overview of how attacks have become much more advanced and successful at penetrating networks, regardless of industry,” said Ashar Aziz, FireEye founder and CTO.

“As cybercriminals invest more in advanced malware and innovations to better evade detection, enterprises must rethink their security infrastructure and reinforce their traditional defences with a new layer of security that is able to detect these dynamic, unknown threats in real time.”

Key findings in the Advanced Threat Report include:

- On average, enterprises experience a malware event up to once every three minutes.

- Across industries, the rate of malware activity varies, with technology companies experiencing the highest volume with up to one event per minute. Some industries are attacked cyclically, while some verticals experience attacks erratically.

- Spear phishing remains the most common method for initiating advanced malware campaigns.

- When sending spear phishing emails, attackers opt for file names with common business terms to lure unsuspecting users into opening the malware and initiating the attack. 

These terms fall into three general categories: shipping and delivery, finance, and general business. The top term in malware file names, for example, was “UPS”.

- ZIP files remain the preferred file of choice for malware delivery. Malicious malware is delivered in ZIP file format in 92 per cent of attacks.

- Several innovations have appeared to better evade detection. 

Instances of malware are uncovered that execute only when users move a mouse, a tactic which could dupe current sandbox detection systems since the malware doesn’t generate any activity.

 In addition, malware writers have also incorporated virtual machine detection to bypass sandboxing.

- Attackers are increasingly using DLL files. By avoiding the more common .exe file type, attackers leverage DLL files to prolong infections.

“The high rate at which cyber attacks are happening illustrates the allure of malware,” said Zheng Bu, senior director of research.

“Today, malware writers spend enormous effort on developing evasion techniques that bypass legacy security systems. 

"Unless enterprises take steps to modernise their security strategy, most organisations are sitting ducks.”

Further information:

Read FireEye's Advanced Threat Report

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