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Malware variety grows by 13.7% in 2019 due to web skimmers

By Adeyemi Adepetun
13 December 2019   |   4:12 am
Activities of cyber criminals through the use of malware rose by 13.7 per cent in 2019.

Activities of cyber criminals through the use of malware rose by 13.7 per cent in 2019.

According to global cybersecurity company, Kaspersky, in the year that is ending, the number of unique malicious objects detected rose by an eighth, compared to last year — reaching 24,610,126. It said this growth was mainly influenced by a 187 per cent rise in web skimmer files.

Kaspersky said other threats, such as backdoors and banking Trojans detected in-lab, also grew, while the presence of miners dropped by more than a half. It stressed that these trends have demonstrated a shift in the type of threats used by attackers on the web, who search for more effective ways to target users.

In 2018, unique malicious objects (including scripts, exploits and executable files) detected by Kaspersky’s web antivirus solution totalled 21,643,946, rising to 24,610,126 this year. The growth accounts for an increase in the number and variety of HTML pages and scripts with hidden data loading – usually used by unscrupulous advertisers.

Kaspersky noted that yet, most notably, the growth was also partially caused by online skimmers (sometimes referred to as sniffers) – where scripts are embedded by attackers in online stores and used to steal users’ credit card data from websites.

The growth of online skimmers’ unique files (scripts and HTML) detected by Kaspersky web antivirus equaled 187 per cent, reaching 510,000. At the same time the number of threats detected by web antivirus have risen five-fold (by 523 per cent), totaling 2,660,000 in 2019.

According to the Cybersecurity firm, web skimmers also entered the top 20 malicious objects detected online, taking 10th place in the overall ranking. It disclosed that the share of new backdoors and banking Trojan files, among all types of threats detected in-lab, also grew by 134 per cent and 61 per cent to reach 7,644,402 and 739,551 respectively.

Nevertheless, the number of unique malicious URLs detected by Kaspersky web antivirus halved in comparison to 2018 (50.5 per cent) – from 554,159,621 to 273,782,113. This shift was largely caused by significant decrease of hidden web miners, even though several detections related to them (including Trojan.Script.Miner.gen, Trojan.BAT.Miner.gen, Trojan.JS.Miner.m), can still be seen in the top 20 web malware threats.

Kaspersky noted that the presence of programs that secretly generate cryptocurrency on users’ computers (called ‘local’ miners) has also been steadily declining over the year: the number of users’ computers affected by attempts to install miners dropped by 59 per cent, from 5,638,828 to 2,259,038.

85 per cent of web threats were detected as malicious URL – this detection name is used to identify links from Kaspersky’s black list. It includes links to web pages containing redirects to exploits, sites with exploits and other malicious programs, botnet command and control centers, extortion websites, and others.

Head of Anti-Malware Research at Kaspersky, Vyacheslav Zakorzhevsky, said:“The volume of online attacks has been growing for years, but in 2019 we saw a clear shift from certain types of attacks that are becoming ineffective, to the ones focused on gaining clear profit from users. This is partly due to users becoming more aware of the threats and how to avoid them, and organisations steadily becoming more responsible. A good example is miners, which have lost their popularity due to lower profitability and cryptocurrencies’ fight against covert mining. This year we also witnessed growth in zero-day exploits, showing products remain vulnerable and are used by attackers for sophisticated attacks, and this trend is likely to continue in the future.”