Here are a handful of the most important trends we saw emerge over the course of 2017, and what they may mean for the year ahead.

April 20, 2018

4 Min Read
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A team of Webroot analysts and threat researchers recently put the finishing touches on an annual report examining some of the most salient cyber threat trends to emerge in 2017, plus a few predictions for the year ahead. Given the more than 40 million licensed endpoints we protect–and a threat intelligence platform capable of integrating information from billions of URLs, domains, IP addresses, files and mobile apps–Webroot has no shortage of data to analyze when it comes to interpreting an ever-shifting threat landscape.

Here are a handful of the most important trends we saw emerge over the course of 2017, and what they may mean for the year ahead.

1. Ransomware on a Rampage

Ransomware ruled in 2017. Two attacks in particular, WannaCry and NotPetya, infected more than 200,000 devices in more than 100 countries for more than $4 billion in losses. All in under 24 hours. While both attacks were cited by cybersecurity experts as among the most damaging in history, NotPetya was especially wicked in its intent to damage infrastructure, as well as extort its victims. Ransomware, especially when it’s widespread and successful, tends to grab headlines. After a series of high-profile instances in a still-young 2018, it’s bound to continue as a favored tool of hackers in the year ahead.

Spam email campaigns have long been a favorite delivery mechanism for hackers. To find out about the new strategy gaining favor among cybercriminals, check out the full report

2. Users Are Taking the Bait on Phishing Attacks

report released by Verizon in 2017 contained some shocking statistics concerning success rates for phishing attacks. Webroot’s research points to why. While more than 1.5 million phishing attacks were carried out over the course of the year, most of the sites they directed were live for no more than eight hours. IP masking and frequently changing domain names to evade static lists were favored techniques for covering hackers’ tracks, reminding us that static lists are all but completely ineffective at protecting against phishing attacks and that user education is increasingly important for successful threat prevention.

Want to know why Webroot isn’t celebrating another year of decline in the average number of malware files per device? Read the full report to find out.

3. Same Malware, Many Forms: Polymorphism is Here to Stay

Static lists were once the preferred method of keeping known malicious files from being downloaded onto machines. But polymorphism’s popularity has retired static lists as a workable way of defending against malware. Tiny variations in malware binaries, ones that otherwise do not change their core functions, now prevent now these lists from reliably filtering out threats. Of the hundreds of millions of executable files Webroot analyzes each year, all but 6% of malicious executables were polymorphic. This serves to reinforce the lesson learned from modern phishing attacks: Static lists belong to a bygone era.

Webroot isn’t quite ready to celebrate another year of decline in the average number of malware files per device, though. Download the report to learn why.

4. Cryptojacking Means Easy Money for Cybercriminals

The best cons leave their victims blissfully unaware they’ve been had. Or so we learned from watching “The Sting,” at least. Obliviousness is an added benefit of a tactic surging in popularity among cybercriminals. Cryptojacking comprises the hijacking of a machine’s computing power for the purpose of cryptomining, the process of adding transactions to a blockchain leger in exchange for small transaction fees that accumulate over time. In the long run, these efforts lead to steady returns with little effort for cryptojackers.

Which cryptocurrency was most popular among cryptojackers? Check out the report.

5. More Mobile Banking Apps, More Problems

The total number of smartphone users is expected to eclipse the 2 billion mark by 2019. The coming year will undoubtedly see mobile devices increasingly within the crosshairs of hackers. Malicious apps are the preferred method for hacking smartphones by a large margin. Webroot has analyzed more than 62 million mobile apps to date, and found a concerning 32% of those analyzed in 2017 to be malicious in nature.

What’s the most common type of malware delivered via malicious app? Download the full 2018 Webroot Threat Report to find out.

For a guided tour of the 2018 Threat Report, be sure to join our webinar, “2018 Threat Report and Top Malware,” with Channel Futures contributor Charlie Cooper and Tyler Moffitt, senior threat analyst at Webroot, on May 17 at 2:00 p.m. ET. Register here.

This guest blog is part of a Channel Futures sponsorship.

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