In a recap of the threat landscape in 2017, Dr. Jon Oliver at Trend Micro highlighted reasons that cyber criminals continue to be very strategic in the way they target businesses and shows why the trend has no end in sight. As long as there is economic gain, cyber-based disruptions will continue. Dr. Oliver summarizes that “The 2017 roundup report reveals a threat landscape as volatile as anything we’ve seen, with cybercriminals increasingly finding they’re able to gain more - whether it’s money or data or reputation damage — by strategically targeting companies’ most valuable assets.” Certainly part of the success had by criminals in 2017 was the result of key new tools that were made available to them during the year, most notably stolen NSA cyber weapons.
Considering the economic losses caused by the WannaCry and Petya ransomware strains was estimated at up to $5 billion and though the apparent number of large threat actors went down, the total activity increased. Much of this activity was directly attributable to large distributions of weaponized e-mails. For instance, one Locky ransomware variant involved sending 23 million infected messages in just 24 hours.
With knowledge that these types of attacks will escalate and get increasingly sophisticated, we recommend organizations continue to evaluate their security posture. This is especially true in the areas of employee security awareness training programs and ongoing network and endpoint monitoring.