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Check Point research: 2300 active global malware families - and they're growing fast

22 Jun 2016

The amount of global malware families just keeps going, with an increase of 15% in May 2016, totalling 2300 unique and active malware families, new research from Check Point has found.

Unique, active malware families have increased by 50% from March to April, demonstrating the continued rise of malware families attacking business networks.

Check Point says that the unrelenting rise in active malware variants means that security teams are facing ever-wider attack scales and threats to their business critical information.

"We continue to see a significant increase in the number of unique and active malware families targeting business networks, which speaks to the effort hackers are putting into creating new zero-day attacks and the scale of the challenge businesses face in securing their network against cyber criminals. Organisations need to consider using advanced threat prevention measures on networks, endpoints and mobile devices to stop malware at the pre-infection stage to ensure they are effectively secured against the latest threats," says Nathan Shuchami, head of threat prevention at Check Point.

Check Point identified the top three main malware families as Conficker, Tinba and Sality. The top 10 families in this category were responsible of 60% of all recognised attacks.

  • Conficker, responsible for 14% of attacks, was the most commonly-used malware. It works as a worm in a botnet, allowing remote operations, malware downloads and credential theft by disabling Windows security services.
  • Tinba (also known as Tiny Banker or Zusy), a banking malware Trojan, accounted for 9% of attacks and was the most prevalent infection, using web-injects to steal credentials from users as they logged in to their banking websites
  • Sality accounted for 9% of attacks, which is a virus that infects Windows operating systems to allow remote control and malware downloads. The virus can adapt easily, so it is proving difficult to detect.

Mobile malware families are making gains in attacks, most targeting Android but several have targeted iOS. The attacks show that Android is still a popular target for attackers with potentially high rewards. The top three threats are HummingBad, Iop and XcodeGhost. Additionally, Android malware takes six spots in the top 100 overall malware families.

  • Hummingbad remained in the overall top 10 malware attacks against all platforms globally. The malware forms a persistent rootkit and installs fraudulent applications that can become the base for additional malware such as keyloggers, bypassing enterprise email encryption and stealing credentials.
  • IoP is an Android malware that floods devices with advertising and application installations through root access. This makes it difficult for legitimate users to keep using the device for usual purposes.
  • XcodeGhost is an iOS malware that is a compromised version of the original developer platform Xcode. XcodeGhost installs malicious code into any app that was built using the the platform. The code sends information to a Command and Control server, allowing the infected app access to the device's clipboard.
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