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New threats discovered targeting public sectors: Trend Micro

Zafirah Salim | Aug. 27, 2015
Public utilities, government attacks and targeted threats dominate the second quarter of 2015.

The second quarter of 2015 is wrought with high profile vulnerabilities and hacks as cybercriminals become more inventive in their attack methods to infiltrate and abuse existing technologies that are often overlooked, according to a Trend Micro Q2 security roundup report.

Titled 'A Rising Tide: New Hacks Threaten Public Technologies', the report was shared at the fifth edition of CLOUDSEC in Singapore, an internet security conference in Asia Pacific and Europe hosted annually by Trend Micro.

The report uncovered hacks causing disruptions to public utilities such as broadcast networks, airplanes, automated vehicular systems and home routers. This not only poses the risk of malware infections, but also physical inconveniences and threats.

Zeroing in on the Asia Pacific region, Trend Micro noted that the number of malware detections is over 118 million and the number of spam messages blocked across the region is over 396 million. As for malwares, the hits to malicious URLs from users across the region is over 214 million, while those hosted here is over 50 million.

"In the second quarter, we saw a shift in the threat landscape with cyber criminals becoming more sophisticated and creative, amplifying existing methods of attack, and using them in new ways," said Dhanya Thakkar, Managing Director, Asia Pacific, Trend Micro. "The ethereal outlook on the threat of cybercrime can no longer be held by the general population. This quarter demonstrated that the potential damage caused by cyber attacks extends far beyond a simple software bug to hacks of airplanes, smart cars and television stations."

Hackers are taking more strategic approaches, refining their approach and targeting more selective victims to improve their infection rates. This is reflected by the exponential increase in the use of several traditional attack methods, including a 50 percent increase in the integration of the Angler exploit kit, a 67 percent growth in overall exploit kit-related threats, and CryptoWall ransomware becoming highly targeted, with 79 percent of infections occurring in the U.S.

While threats to software are always present, vulnerabilities in Web apps were proven to be just as dangerous. Attackers will leverage any vulnerability available and custom applications need custom security attention to ensure those entry points are eliminated.

Governments fight back against cybercrime

Government entities have realised the full impact of cyber attacks during the second quarter with massive data breaches on both the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in May and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) system in June. This attack on OPM served as great reminder that no one's personal data is truly safe, according to Trend Micro.

The OPM data breach was the largest of its kind to date, exposing personally identifiable information of approximately 21 million individuals. Other government agencies were impacted by targeted campaigns using macro malware, new command and control (C&C) servers, and the continued use of newly exploited vulnerabilities and 0-days Pawn Storm.


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