Network security firm Fortinet released its latest threat report Monday, which covers trends and observations from Q4 2012, including four types of malware aimed at financial theft, and an increase in server vulnerability scanning by hacktivists.
According to Fortinet data, the last quarter of 2012 had to contend with four pieces of malware that grew in scope month over month, spiking in overall activity within a seriously short amount of time – as in from a day to a week.
One of the variants posed as a Flash update and compromised login data. Called Simda.B, the malware allows criminals access to social networking profiles, and various other Web-based accounts, which are used to further spread the malware itself. One of the top targets is financial account data, in order to siphon funds.
After that, Rogue Anti-Virus (FakeAlert.D) was another popular malware strain with criminals, which flooded the infected host with registration notices. Ransomware was also rather popular, earning the attacker money by preventing a user’s machine from booting or encrypting data on the victim’s machine and demanding payment for the key to decrypt it. Finally, Fortinet tracked the spread of a Zeus variant that captured banking details, which was later modified to intercept SMS data on mobile devices.
“While methods of monetizing malware have evolved over the years, cybercriminals today seem to be more open and confrontational in their demands for money – for faster returns,” said Guillaume Lovet, senior manager of FortiGuard Labs’ Threat Response Team.
“Now it’s not just about silently swiping passwords, it’s also about bullying infected users into paying. The basic steps users can take to protect themselves, however, have not changed. They should continue to have security solutions installed on their computers, update their software diligently with the latest versions and patches, run regular scans and exercise common sense.”
Also observed in Q4 2012, was high activity levels of ZmEu. ZmEu is a tool developed by Romanian hackers to scan Web servers running vulnerable versions of phpMyAdmin in order to take control. According to the report, the activity level has risen a full nine times since September, before finally leveling off in December.
“This activity spike suggests a heightened interest by hacktivist groups to facilitate various protests and activist movements around the world. We expect such scanning activity to remain high as hacktivists pursue an ever-increasing number of causes and publicize their successes,” Lovet continued.