Rise in blended cyber attacks wreaking greater damage: report

A new report finds that cybersecurity threats seldom occur in isolation – blended attacks can leverage DDoS threats, botnets, malware and IPv6 networks to strike systems from various points.

Neustar, Inc. has released a new cybersecurity report, reconfirming the need to take action in the face of increasing cyber threats. The Changing Face of Cyber Attacks report highlights evolving trends around cyber threats, one of which being the ease with which cyber criminals can now leverage existing botnets – such as Mirai, Sartori and WireX, to launch cyber-attacks on any entity, simply by “renting” the service online for any purpose the buyer desires.

This report, an initiative of the Neustar International Security Council (NISC), reveals that Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and the Southeast Asian regions have recorded a growing number of botnet breaches in 2018. Japan, Hong Kong, India and China are amongst the top 10 countries with highest number of potentially vulnerable Memcached servers.

In 2018, seven in 10 breaches detected can be attributed to perpetrators outside the organisation, 50 percent were orchestrated by organized criminal groups, while 28 percent of the breaches were executed by members within the organisation.

“With organisations across Asia Pacific heading towards digital transformation in full force, cybersecurity concerns can no longer be just an afterthought. The fact is that perpetrators are now able to launch complex cyber-attacks with minimal specialized expertise, as botnets can be rented and tools downloaded,” said Robin Schmitt, General Manager, APAC at Neustar. “As businesses go digital, leaders will have to prepare for blended, multi-vector, attacks and consider a holistic and comprehensive defence. The recent SingHealth breach impacting over 1.5 million Singaporeans is a grave reminder of the serious financial and reputational damage that all businesses face without concerted protection.”

Neustar’s The Changing Face of Cyber Attacks report further examined the effects of Memcached attacks and the largest DDoS attack ever recorded at 1.7Tbps. The study demonstrates how the different types of threats propagating today, combined with the sheer volume of attacks, can paint a discouraging picture. Even more alarming, however, is the fact that today’s threats seldom occur in isolation. For example, a DDoS threat in one segment can divert attention from malware in another, while ransomware can be used to hasten data exfiltration.

Additional results show that IPv6 attacks will rise as companies adopt the new standard. Neustar thwarted what is believed to be the first IPv6 attack –the attack presented a new direction that attackers are likely to pursue as more and more companies adopt IPv6 and run dual IPv4/IPv6 stacks.

IoT growth is paving the way for botnets, which are constantly evolving. Cyber criminals can rent or purchase these botnets with ease – making these threats one of the biggest issues for enterprises today.

Rodney Joffe, Head of NISC and Neustar Senior Vice President and Fellow, said, “While naturally distressing, these results should come as no surprise to anyone. Yes, security professionals are becoming more concerned about the level of threat to their organizations, because that same level of threat is continuing to rise at an extreme rate.”

“As we have seen over the past year, there are more threats to be aware of, whether in the form of DDoS, malware, application layer attacks or something else entirely, leaving professionals confused about where the next attack is coming from.”

“To successfully prepare for a cyber attack in today’s landscape is to accept that your organization will be the next target. If you are online, you are susceptible to an attack. Whether you are most vulnerable or not is entirely up to you.”