Security Experts:

Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

SecurityWeekSecurityWeek

Funding/M&A

US, Australian Cybersecurity Agencies Publish List of 2021’s Top Malware

The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) have published a joint advisory to detail the top malware strains of 2021.

The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) have published a joint advisory to detail the top malware strains of 2021.

CISA and ACSC have been monitoring ransomware, rootkits, spyware, trojans, viruses, and worms, but trojans dominated the landscape last year, when Agent Tesla, AZORult, Formbook, GootLoader, LokiBot, MouseIsland, NanoCore, Qakbot, Remcos, TrickBot and Ursnif were the top malware strains.

Some of the most prevalent malware families on the list have been around for more than five years, due to constant updates and evolution into multiple variants. Qakbot and Ursnif have been used for more than a decade.

Agent Tesla, AZORult, FormBook, LokiBot, NanoCore, Remcos, and Ursnif are trojans used to steal victims’ information, while GootLoader, Qakbot, and TrickBot are used to deploy additional payloads.

Operated by Eurasian cybercriminals, Qakbot and TrickBot are also known to form botnets, which are brokered to enable ransomware attacks.

TrickBot has been observed enabling initial access for Conti ransomware, which accounted for roughly 450 ransomware attacks in the first half of 2021. The two malware families are operated by the same group and the US has offered a $15 million bounty for information on the gang’s leaders.

Malware developers, the two agencies note, continue to maintain, improve, and disseminate their code for several years, often as part of malware-as-a-service (MaaS) operations that return significant financial benefits at low risk.

“Many malware developers often operate from locations with few legal prohibitions against malware development and deployment. Some developers even market their malware products as legitimate cyber security tools,” , CISA and ACSC say.

Agent Tesla and Remcos are two trojans that have been offered as legitimate tools for pentesting and remote management, and cybercriminals can purchase them online at low cost.

To mitigate the risk of malware attacks, organizations should keep their software and operating systems updated, implement network segmentation, enforce multi-factor authentication, secure and monitor remote desktop protocol and other risky services, create offline backups of their data, and educate employees and users on how to identify social engineering and phishing attempts.

Related: Ransomware, Malware-as-a-Service Dominate Threat Landscape

Related: Ransomware-Related Data Leaks Nearly Doubled in 2021: Report

Related: New ‘Bumblebee’ Malware Loader Used by Several Cybercrime Groups

Written By

Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

Click to comment

Daily Briefing Newsletter

Subscribe to the SecurityWeek Email Briefing to stay informed on the latest threats, trends, and technology, along with insightful columns from industry experts.

Join this webinar to learn best practices that organizations can use to improve both their resilience to new threats and their response times to incidents.

Register

Join this live webinar as we explore the potential security threats that can arise when third parties are granted access to a sensitive data or systems.

Register

Expert Insights

Related Content

Application Security

Cycode, a startup that provides solutions for protecting software source code, emerged from stealth mode on Tuesday with $4.6 million in seed funding.

Cybercrime

The changing nature of what we still generally call ransomware will continue through 2023, driven by three primary conditions.

Cybersecurity Funding

SecurityWeek investigates how political/economic conditions will affect venture capital funding for cybersecurity firms during 2023.

Cybercrime

No one combatting cybercrime knows everything, but everyone in the battle has some intelligence to contribute to the larger knowledge base.

Cybercrime

A recently disclosed vBulletin vulnerability, which had a zero-day status for roughly two days last week, was exploited in a hacker attack targeting the...

Funding/M&A

More than 450 cybersecurity-related mergers and acquisitions were announced in 2022, according to an analysis conducted by SecurityWeek

Funding/M&A

Forty cybersecurity-related M&A deals were announced in January 2023.

Funding/M&A

Twenty-one cybersecurity-related M&A deals were announced in December 2022.