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Food industry hit hardest by malware in 2017 - report

07 May 2018

Would you like a side of malware with your meal? Businesses in the food industry were hit hardest by various types of malware in 2017 – a trend that is relatively unchanged from the previous year.

Cylance recently released the results of its 2017 Threat Report, which says that of its customers in sectors including food, hospitality, healthcare, products, and others, the food industry took the brunt of half (50%) of malware attacks.

Cylance customers in hospitality trailed behind (19%), followed by healthcare (13%), products (11%) and all others (7%).

Last year the company detected a 13.4% increase in the amount of attacks seen in the Cylance ecosystem, which equates to prevention of more than 3900 unique attacks per enterprise worldwide.

The company also names the ‘top ten malware families’ from 2017, which includes WannaCry, Upatre, Cerber, Emotet, Locky, Petya, Ramnit, Fareit, PolyRansom and Terdot/Zloader.

“The attacks and threats of 2017 are a reminder of the ingenuity and destructive capabilities of threat actors,” comments Cylance head of security research, Aditya Kapoor.

“All indicators point to a perfect storm with the explosion in the number and types of endpoints requiring protection, the rise in the diversity of attack types, and the ease with which they can be accessed and weaponised.”

As one of the most publicised cyber threats of 2017 WannaCry is at the top of the list.

“Many people have felt the impact of WannaCry — from late nights spent rebuilding infected machines to a heightened sense of insecurity,” the report says.

It affected 58% of the company’s customers in the food industry, 25% in manufacturing, and 9% in healthcare.

Ransomware as an entire family also affected 58% of healthcare organisations in 2017. Cylance says that ransomware is here to stay.

The report says that although it has been reported that there may be several hundred WannaCry variants in the wild, this may not actually be the case.

“The clear majority appear to have been either doctored versions of the original variant, primarily modified by researches to alter the kill-switch domain, or are subcomponents that have been extracted/carved from ondisk or in-memory images, leading to differing hash values but identical functionality.”

“Ransomware may not be what it seems. The WannaCry outbreak delivered a ransomware payload that rendered systems unusable around the world. That said, the ransomware itself was very ineffective when it came to generating revenue for the bad actors. Nearly every machine that was compromised could not be recovered since the bad actor’s ransomware site, where the infected user could pay the bitcoin ransom, did not actually deliver the necessary encryption key to the user,” the report continues.

“It’s critical that companies are aware of the threats, keep up-to-date with patches, and use defenses that protect against constantly evolving malware,” comments Cylance CTO Rahul Kashyap.

Cylance says there are a number of reliable security ‘standbys’ that can protect customers.

  • Keeping hardware and software updated
  • Wisely managing access and permissions within the environment
  • Strictly limiting and monitoring remote access
  • Training personnel to identify attempts at social engineering and phishing
  • Maintaining strong physical security over vulnerable infrastructure
  • Knowledge sharing
  • The use of AI and machine learning rather than signature-based antivirus and blacklisting.
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