The New Cyberattacks Threatening Public Sector Companies

Duncan MacRae is former editor and now a contributor to TechWeekEurope. He previously edited Computer Business Review's print/digital magazines and CBR Online, as well as Arabian Computer News in the UAE.

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Targeted attacks on public utilities and governments are intensifying, Trend Micro report finds

The second quarter of 2015 was riddled with high profile vulnerabilities and hacks, with cybercriminals becoming more creative in their attack methods.

This was the finding of a study by Trend Micro, ‘A Rising Tide: New Hacks Threaten Public Technologies’, which detailed the evolution of tools and methods attackers use to get the greatest return on every cybercrime investment.

Shift in threat landscape

Raimund Genes, CTO, Trend Micro, said: “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.

cyber attack (2)“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, according to the study. 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 US.

Government entities have realised the full impact of cyberattacks during the second quarter with massive data breaches on both the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in May and the US. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) system in June. 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 zero-days Pawn Storm.

When looking at the Q2 threat landscape as a whole, the US. is a major player in both deploying and receiving various attacks, with malicious links, spam, C&C servers and ransomware are all having a major presence.

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