Cyberattackers change tactic to infiltrate networks, says Symantec

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KUALA LUMPUR (Apr 23): Cyberattackers are infiltrating networks and evading detection by hijacking the infrastructure of major corporations and using it against them, according to Symantec’s Internet Securiry Threat Report (ISTR).

In a statement today, Symantec Malaysia and Thailand country director Nigel Tan said the firm was seeing a dramatic shift in the mode of attacks.

He said attackers had stepped up their game by tricking companies into infecting themselves through Trojanised software updates, hiding their malware inside software updates of programs used by target organisations.

“This enables cybercriminals to gain full access to corporate networks without the need to even make any forced entry,” he said.

Tan also said almost no company, whether large or small, was immune to targeted attacks.

He said that in Malaysia, five out of every six large companies with more than 2,500 employees were targeted with spear-phishing attacks in 2014.

“Small-businesses also saw an uptake, with attacks increasing from 10% in 2013 to 28% last year.

“In view of the growing sophistication of these attacks, good IT security is essential and broad cybersecurity practices should be the norm,” he said.

The Symantec research revealed that it took software companies an average of 59 days to create and roll out patches, from only four days in 2013.

Tan said attackers took advantage of the delay and, in the case of Heartbleed, leapt to exploit the vulnerability within four hours.

He said there were 24 total zero-day vulnerabilities discovered in 2014, leaving an open playing field for attackers to exploit known security gaps before they were patched.

“Meanwhile, advanced attackers continued to breach networks with highly-targeted spear-phishing attacks, which increased to a total of 8% in 2014.

“What makes last year particularly interesting is the precision of these attacks, which used 20% fewer emails to successfully reach their targets and incorporated more drive-by malware downloads and other web-based exploits,” he said.