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Kaspersky Sees Abuse of Personal Information, Sophisticated Attacks in 2020

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Kaspersky researchers have shared their vision on Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) in 2020, pointing out how the landscape of targeted attacks will change in the coming months. The overall trend shows that threats will grow in sophistication and become more targeted, diversifying under the influence of external factors, such as development and propagation of machine learning, technologies for deepfakes development, or tensions around trade routes between Asia and Europe.

The predictions were developed based on the changes that Global Research and Analysis Team witnessed over 2019 to support the cybersecurity community with some guidelines and insights. The latter, along with a series of industry and technology threat predictions, will help to prepare for the challenges that lie in the coming 12 months.

The abuse of personal information: from deep fakes to DNA leaks

After a number of personal data leaks that happened in the past years, the number of personal details available made it easier for attackers to perform targeted attacks, based on victims leaked info. The bar has been raised, and in 2020 the threat actors will dive deeper, hunting for more sensitive leaks, such as biometric data.

The researchers pointed out a number of key technologies, which could lure victims of personal data abuse in the attackers’ traps, among them is publicly discussed video and audio Deep Fakes that can be automated and support profiling and creation of scams and social engineering schemes.

Other targeted threat predictions for 2020 include:

–  False flag attacks reach a whole new level. This will develop further, with threat actors seeking not only to avoid attribution but also to actively lay the blame on someone else. Commodity malware, scripts, publicly available security tools or administrator software, mixed with a couple of false flags, where security researchers are hungry for any small clue, might be enough to divert authorship to someone else.

– Ransomware shifts toward targeted threats. A potential twist might be that, instead of making files unrecoverable, threat actors will threaten to publish data that they have stolen from the victim company.

– New banking regulations in EU open new attack vectors. As banks will be required to open their infrastructure and data to third parties who wish to provide services to bank customers, it is likely that attackers will seek to abuse these new mechanisms with new fraudulent schemes.

– More infrastructure attacks and attacks against non-PC targets. Determined threat actors have, for some time, been extending their toolsets beyond Windows, and even beyond PC systems, VPNFilter and Slingshot, for example, targeted networking hardware.

– Cyber attacks focus on trade routes between Asia and Europe. There are several ways this could play out. They include a growth in political espionage as governments seek to secure their interests at home and abroad. It is likely to extend also to technological espionage in situations of potential or real economic crisis and resulting instability.

–  New interception capabilities and data exfiltration methods. Use of supply chains will continue to be one of the most difficult delivery methods to address. It is likely that attackers will continue to expand this method through manipulated software containers, for example, and abuse of packages and libraries.

– Mobile APTs develop faster. There are no good reasons to think this will stop any time soon. However, due to the increased attention given to this subject by the security community, we believe the number of attacks being identified and analysed in detail will also increase.

– Personal information abuse grows, armed with AI. It is very similar to some of the techniques discussed for driving election advertisements through social media. This technology is already in use and it is just a matter of time before some attackers take advantage of it.

“The future holds so many possibilities that there are likely to be things that are not included in our predictions. The extent and complexity of the environments in which attacks play out offer so many possibilities. In addition, no single threat research team has complete visibility of the operations of APT threat actors. We will continue to try and anticipate the activities of APT groups and understand the methods they employ, while providing insights into their campaigns and the impact they have,” says Vicente Diaz, security researcher at Kaspersky.

The predictions have been developed thanks to Kaspersky threat intelligence services from around the world. On November 20, Kaspersky GReAT researchers will also share their predictions for upcoming changes in the world of major threat actors in 2020.


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Millions of Cyber Attacks Launched on Nigeria, Others- Reports

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There were 3.8 million malware attacks and 16.8 million Potentially Unwanted Applications (PUA) detections over a 7-month period in Nigeria, according to Kaspersky security solutions.

Millions of Cyber Attacks Launched on Nigeria, Others- Reports

Elsewhere in South Africa, there were almost 10 million malware attacks and a staggering 43 million PUA detections, showing the growing desperation of the attacks.

The company reported on 28 million malware attacks in 2020 and 102 million detections of potentially unwanted programs (pornware, adware etc.) accounted for by the beginning of August 2020.

These numbers show that it’s not only the malware that attacks users but also the “grey zone” programmes that grow in popularity and disturb their experiences, while users might not even know it is there.

Potentially unwanted applications (PUAs) are programmes that are usually not considered to be malicious by themselves.

However, they are generally influencing user experience in a negative way. For instance, adware fills user device with ads; aggressive monetising software propagates unrequested paid offers; downloaders may download even more various applications on the device, sometimes malicious ones.

calculating interim results of threat landscape activity in African countries, Kaspersky researchers noticed that PUAs attack users almost four times more often than traditional malware.

They also eventually reach more users: for instance, while in South Africa, the malware would attack 415,000 users in 7-months of 2020, the figure for PUA would be 736,000.

“The reason why ‘grey zone’ software is growing in popularity is that it is harder to notice at first and that if the programme is detected, its creators won’t be considered to be cybercriminals. The problem with them is that users are not always aware they consented to the installation of such programmes on their device and that in some cases, such programmes are exploited or used as a disguise for malware downloads,” said Denis Parinov, a security researcher at Kaspersky.

By taking a closer look at PUA, it becomes apparent that they are not only more widespread but also more potent than traditional malware.

Evaluating results over the same 7-month period in Nigeria, there were 3.8 million malware attacks and 16.8 million PUA detections – which is four times as much.

Kenyan and South African threat landscapes have been more intense. In South Africa, there were almost 10 million malware attacks and a staggering 43 million PUA detections.

Kenyan users faced even more malware attacks – around 14 million, and 41 million PUA appearances, Kaspersky said.


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Tech Giants Strike Deal with Advertisers over Hate Speech

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Web giants including Facebook have struck a deal with advertisers on how to identify harmful content such as hate speech, after an impasse over the issue which led to boycotts of the platform.

Tech Giants Strike Deal with Advertisers over Hate Speech

The agreement — which also included Twitter and YouTube — laid out for the first time a common set of definitions for hateful statements online.

In July, hundreds of advertisers including big-name consumer brands suspended advertising with Facebook as part of the #StopHateForProfit campaign, saying the social-media titan should do more to stamp out hatred and misinformation on its platform.

And earlier this month a group of celebrities — including Kim Kardashian, Leonardo DiCaprio and Katy Perry — stopped using Facebook and Instagram for 24 hours, to push a similar message.

The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) said in a statement Wednesday: “Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, in collaboration with marketers and agencies through the Global Alliance for Responsible Media have agreed to adopt a common set of definitions for hate speech and other harmful content and to collaborate with a view to monitoring industry efforts to improve in this critical area.”

The alliance was founded by the WFA and includes other major trade bodies.

According to the WFA, key areas of agreement included applying the alliance’s common definitions of harmful content; developing reporting standards for such content; establishing independent oversight; and rolling out tools for keeping advertisements away from harmful content.

The WFA said that properly defining online hate speech would remove the current problem of different platforms using their own definitions, which it said made it difficult for companies to decide where to put their ads.

“As funders of the online ecosystem, advertisers have a critical role to play in driving positive change and we are pleased to have reached agreement with the platforms on an action plan and timeline in order to make the necessary improvements,” said Stephan Loerke, chief executive of the WFA.

Luis Di Como, executive vice-president of global media at Unilever, a major advertiser, sounded a note of cautious optimism.

He said: “The issues within the online ecosystem are complicated, and whilst change doesn’t happen overnight, today marks an important step in the right direction.”

Speaking in July, Facebook’s founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said he remained adamant that the company did not want hate speech on the social network.

On Wednesday, the company’s vice-president for global marketing solutions, Carolyn Everson, said the agreement gave all parties “a unified language to move forward on the fight against hate online.”

 


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Nigeria, Others Facing ‘Millions of Cyber Attacks’ in 2020

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Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa, continues to fall victim to millions of malware attacks and Potentially Unwanted Applications (PUAs), according to the latest research from Kaspersky.

The IT security firm says its security solutions have reported on 28 million malware attacks in 2020 and 102 million detections of PUA (including pornware, adware) accounted for by the beginning of August 2020.

PUAs are programs that are usually not considered to be malicious by themselves, Kaspersky explains. However, they are generally influencing user experience in a negative way.

For instance, adware fills user device with ads; aggressive monetizing software propagates unrequested paid offers; downloaders may download even more various applications on the device, sometimes malicious ones.

By taking a closer look at PUA, it becomes apparent that they are not only more widespread but also more potent than traditional malware, according to Kaspersky.

“Evaluating results over the same seven-month period in Nigeria, there were 3,8 million malware attacks and 16,8 million PUA detections – which is four times as much. Kenyan and South African threat landscapes have been more intense.

In South Africa, there were almost 10 million malware attacks and a staggering 43 million PUA detections. Kenyan users faced even more malware attacks – around 14 million, and 41 million PUA appearances,” the company adds.

These numbers show that it’s not only the malware that attacks users but also the ‘grey zone’ programs that grow in popularity and disturb their experiences, while users might not even know it is there.

While calculating interim results of threat landscape activity in African countries, the researchers noticed that PUAs attack users almost four times more often than traditional malware. They also eventually reach more users: for instance, while in South Africa, the malware would attack 415,000 users in seven months of 2020, the figure for PUA would be 736,000.

“The reason why ‘grey zone’ software is growing in popularity is that it is harder to notice at first and that if the program is detected, its creators won’t be considered to be cybercriminals.

“The problem with them is that users are not always aware they consented to the installation of such programs on their device and that in some cases, such programs are exploited or used as a disguise for malware downloads. This is why many security solutions, including ours, flags such programs to make sure users are aware of its presence, influence on their device and activity,” says Denis Parinov, a security researcher at Kaspersky.


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