Shock analysis: most cybercriminals are stupid

"Patch," researcher advises, "Patch, patch, patch"

Analysis of real-world internet traffic has revealed that everyday criminal malware is the most likely threat to businesses and individuals, not sophisticated worms like Stuxnet or advanced persistent threats (APTs) launched by nation states.

The Sourcefire Vulnerability Research Team (VRT) uses a honeypot network to capture more than a terabyte of malware-related traffic every day.

Analysis by senior researcher Alex Kirk shows that the vast majority of attacks are unsophisticated, often conducted by criminals with little technical knowledge using malware construction kits bought for around $100 from Russian suppliers.

"It's not to say that there isn't real, actual, state-sponsored infiltration and that there aren't actual APT attacks that really sneak in andy do nasty, horrible things. But those represent a tiny fraction of the malware that's out there," Kirk told CSO Online.

"Probably less that one percent of all attacks are actually properly 'sophisticated'," he said. "The reality of it is is that 90 percent or more of infections out in the wild are not using 0-day to get in. They're using perfectly patched, known vulnerabilities that there's public exploits for."

"Patch," Kirk said. "Patch, patch, patch. I cannot stress enough the importance of keeping your software up to date."

Kirk is "completely in agreement" with Australian Crime Commission chief John Lawlor's call for businesses and individuals to take more responsibility for their own security because traditional law enforcement can't keep up.

For example, some domains have been known to be running botnet command and control (C&C) servers for eighteen months or more without being taken down.

"One of those,, has been happily distributing malicious binaries and running a C&C network for this entire time. I've spoken about it at multiple conferences around the world, I keep highlighting at as an example, and nobody's touching it," Kirk said.

"I'd love to go take this thing down, but I don't have the expertise to do that myself. I don't have the law enforcement contacts, and no-one ever responds."

Kirk will present his Malware Mythbusters research at Ruxcon in Melbourne this coming weekend.

Contact Stilgherrian at or follow him on Twitter at @stilgherrian

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Tags cybercrimemalwareStuxnetadvanced persistent threats (APTs)Sourcefire Vulnerability Research Team (VRT)Alex Kirk

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