The Dell SonicWALL Threat Research Team has released its annual threat report for 2013. The report is based on data collected by the Dell SonicWALL Global Response Intelligent Defense (GRID) Network, from over 1 million sensors that monitor traffic for emerging threats.
They found 78 billion instances where remotely accessed malware opened the door to risk that can cause significant damage before organisations are able to quarantine and remediate.
Compared to their 2012 data, Microsoft attracted a significantly larger proportion of attacks in 2013. In 2012, they attracted fewer than 12% of the total attacks reported. In 2013, this rose to almost 22% of the total attacks reported. In contracts, Apple's share dropped from almost 15% to just over 3%.
We spoke with Sandeep Joshi, Dell SonicWALL's General Manager for Australia and New Zealand. We started by asking him if there was a causal relationship between popularity of Bitcoin and malware.
"If anything is looking too good, it's too good to be true. Bitcoin business is getting a lot of popularity. Bitcoin looks to be at the front end of what looks to be some very easy money. But doing the basic things is critical for any network security".
With the rise of Cryptolocker and other ransomware, Bitcoin seems to have become a popular way for criminals to collect ransoms. There is also evidence to suggest crypto-currency mining malware activity is strongly correlated with the value of Bitcoin.
In late 2013, SonicWALL researchers observed an increase in Bitcoin-mining botnets, which were designed to hijack computing power to mine for Bitcoins with zero hardware or energy expenses to the criminal operation. They expect this trend to continue well into 2014 as long as the value of Bitcoin remains high.
Dell reported 14 zero-day vulnerabilities in 2013. Browser-based attacks lead the list with Java being the most targeted application, followed closely by Internet Explorer, and Adobe Flash Player.
Joshi told us that these were threats reported by Dell but they are not necessarily unique. For example, FireEye reported that they discovered 11 zero day attacks . It's likely that some of there is overlap between the two reports.
SCADA systems were not immune from attack with systems from Siemens responsible from just over a third of all the reported vulnerabilities. The next most vulnerable systems came from Cisco with just 12% of the reported vulnerabilities. Over a quarter of these vulnerabilities left system operators vulnerable to DDoS attacks improper input validation, buffer overflow and privilege escalation the next most popular categories of CADA vulnerability.
The most popular types of targeted attacks in 2013 were targeted spam against corporate employees leveraging services like fax, voicemail, printers and scanners; sophisticated ransomware like CryptoLocker; SSL-based malware download and communication and; and web-based exploit kits with zero-day exploit payloads resulting in drive-by malware download and install on the targeted machine.
The full Dell Network Security Threat Report 2013 can be read here.