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GPU malware could be the next phase of evolution for Cybercrime: McAfee report

Chris Player | Sept. 3, 2015
Malware for graphics cards, exfiltration techniques and a five-year retrospective of the Cyber-crime scene form the focus of the latest McAfee Labs Threats Report: August 2015, from Intel Security.

Malware for graphics cards, exfiltration techniques and a five-year retrospective of the Cyber-crime scene form the focus of the latest McAfee Labs Threats Report: August 2015, from Intel Security.

The vendor is celebrating five years since the Intel-McAfee union by comparing what researchers thought would happen beginning in 2010 with what actually happened in the realm of hardware and software security threats.

Intel said key researchers and executives had reviewed predictions on the security capabilities of silicon, the challenges of emerging hard-to-detect attacks, and McAfee’s 2010 expectations for new device types versus the reality of the marketplace.

The vendor said its five-year threat landscape analysis suggests:

  • It foresaw threats targeting hardware and firmware components and threatening runtime integrity.
  • Increasingly evasive malware and long-running attacks did not surprise Intel Security, but some of the specific tactics and techniques were unimagined five years ago.
  • Although the volume of mobile devices has increased even faster than it expected, serious broad-based attacks on those devices had grown much more slowly than the security team anticipated.
  • The industry is seeing just the beginnings of attacks and breaches against IoT devices
  • Cloud adoption changed the nature of some attacks, as devices are attacked not for the small amount of data that they store, but as a path to where the important data resides.
  • Cyber-crime has grown into a full-fledged industry with suppliers, markets, service providers, financing, trading systems, and a proliferation of business models.
  • Businesses and consumers still don’t pay pay attention to updates, patches, password security, security alerts, default configurations, and other easy but critical ways to secure cyber and physical assets.
  • The discovery and exploitation of core Internet vulnerabilities has demonstrated how some foundational technologies are under funded and understaffed.
  • There is growing, positive collaboration between the security industry, academia, law enforcement, and governments to take down cyber-criminal operations.

Intel Security’s McAfee Labs senior vice president, Vincent Weafer, said the security vendor was impressed by the degree to which expanding attack surfaces, the industrialisation of hacking, and the complexity and fragmentation of the IT security market had accelerated the evolution of threats, and size and frequency of attacks.

“To keep pace with such momentum, the cyber-security community must continue to improve threat intelligence sharing, recruit more security professionals, accelerate security technology innovation, and continue to engage governments so they can fulfil their role to protect citizens in cyberspace,” he said.

The report also probed into details of three proofs-of-concept (PoC) for malware exploiting GPUs in attacks. While nearly all malware is designed to run from main system memory on the central processing unit (CPU), the PoC leverage the efficiencies of these specialised hardware components designed to accelerate the creation of images for output to a display.

 

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