Exploit Kit DNS Activity Soars 75% in Q3

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The third quarter saw the creation of DNS infrastructure for exploit kits rise 75% from the same time a year ago, pointing to a coming storm of cyber attacks, according to security vendor Infoblox.

The DNS protection service provider puts together a Threat Index to measure the creation of malicious domains used in malware, DDoS, data exfiltration, exploit kits and more.

The score for Q3 2015 stood at 122 – up 19% from a year ago but down slightly from the record high of 133 in Q2 this year.

When it comes to exploit kits, cybercriminals need to register domains to create the ‘drive-by’ location from which they can infect users, who typically arrive there after clicking on malicious spam or malvertising.

An attack on the Daily Mail website earlier this year led to potentially millions of users exposed to this kind of malicious advertising over 4-5 days.

Once clicked through, an EK will typically take advantage of known software vulnerabilities in common applications like Java and Flash to download malware onto the victim’s device.

“The significant increase in the use of exploit kits compared to the same period in 2014 highlights the growing popularity of these types of attacks, as sophisticated cybercriminals continue to profit from the sale of kits which can be used by relatively unskilled hackers to take advantage of known vulnerabilities,” explained Infoblox systems engineering manager, Malcolm Murphy.

“Equipping a greater number of operators with these tools translates to an increase in the number of potential attacks, so organizations must ensure that they are using reliable threat intelligence to enable them to disrupt malware as it communicates through the DNS.”

Angler – the EK connected to the Daily Mail attack – was the most prolific in Q3, accounting for 30% of activity. It’s particularly troublesome as it can be quickly updated to include zero day threats which can be hard for some anti-malware systems to stop and block.

Next came Magnitude (29%), which mainly affected users in the US, Canada and the UK, according to the report.

Infoblox warned that cybercriminals typically go through a two-phase cycle of ‘planting’ and ‘harvesting’ domains for malicious activity, with Q3 activity appearing to tally with the early stages of the latter.

Photo © Andrea Danti 

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