Europol: Ransomware Will be Top Threat for Years

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Ransomware continues to be the biggest malware threat to businesses around the world, but mobile threats and crypto-jacking are emerging as serious challenges, according to Europol.

The law enforcement organization’s annual Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment (IOCTA) provides a good snapshot of current industry trends. It reflects the findings of many security vendors: that ransomware is slowing but still the most widespread financially motivate threat out there, ahead of banking Trojans — and will be so for several years.

DDoS attacks were second only to malware in terms of volume in 2017, as infrastructure becomes more “accessible, low-cost and low-risk.”

On the wane as a means of infection are exploit kits, with “spam, social engineering and newer methods such as RDP brute-forcing coming to the fore.”

Europol also highlighted the emerging threat of crypto-jacking as one to watch, as it offers cyber-criminals a “regular, low risk revenue stream.” Mobile malware was also flagged.

“Mobile malware has not been extensively reported in 2017, but this has been identified as an anticipated future threat for private and public entities alike,” said the report.

As for the underground economy fueling these threats, Europol claimed success in shutting down three major marketplaces in 2017 and said that nine others closed or “exit scammed." However, new sites have unsurprisingly emerged to take their place.

“The almost inevitable closure of large, global darknet marketplaces has led to an increase in the number of smaller vendor shops and secondary markets catering to specific language groups or nationalities,” the report explained.

Javvad Malik, security advocate at AlienVault, said the report is a good validation of many of the trends security experts in the vendor and research community are seeing.

“Collaboration appears to be one of the biggest and most prominent takeaways. Being able to establish trustworthy channels to collaborate and share information and intelligence is vital,” he continued.

“Notable by its omission, there is no mention of the role of bots by organized crime and state to push agendas and misinformation, even though there are increasing industry studies that points to these as being tools in the arsenal of attackers.”

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