In 2017, we saw a number of changes to the world of financial threats and new actors emerging. As we have previously noted, fraud attacks in financial services have become increasingly account-centric. User data is a key enabler for large-scale fraud attacks, and frequent data breaches – among other successful attack types – have provided cybercriminals with valuable sources of personal information to use in account takeovers or false identity attacks. These account-centric attacks can result in many other losses, including those of further customer data and trust, so mitigation is as important as ever for both businesses and financial services customers.
Attacks on ATMs continued to rise in 2017, attracting the attention of many cybercriminals, with attackers targeting bank infrastructure and payment systems using sophisticated fileless malware, as well as the more rudimentary methods of taping over CCTVs and drilling holes. In 2017, Kaspersky Lab researchers uncovered, among other things, attacks on ATM systems that involved new malware, remote operations, and an ATM-targeting malware called ‘Cutlet Maker’ that was being sold openly on the DarkNet market for a few thousand dollars, along with a step-by-step user guide. Kaspersky Lab has published a report outlining possible future ATM attack scenarios targeting ATM authentication systems.
It is also worth mentioning that major cyber incidents continue to take place. In September 2017, Kaspersky Lab researchers identified a new series of targeted attacks against at least 10 financial organizations in multiple regions, including Russia, Armenia, and Malaysia. The hits were performed by a new group called Silence. While stealing funds from its victims, Silence implemented specific techniques similar to the infamous threat actor, Carbanak.
Thus, Silence joins the ranks of the most devastating and complex cyber-robbery operations like Metel, GCMAN and Carbanak/Cobalt, which have succeeded in stealing millions of dollars from financial organizations. The interesting point to note with this actor is that the criminals exploit the infrastructure of already infected financial institutions for new attacks: sending emails from real employee addresses to a new victim, along with a request to open a bank account. Using this trick, criminals make sure the recipient doesn’t suspect the infection vector.
Small and medium-sized businesses didn’t escape financial threats either. Last year Kaspersky Lab’s researchers discovered a new botnet that cashes-in on aggressive advertising, mostly in Germany and the US. Criminals infect their victims’ computers with the Magala Trojan Clicker, generating fake ad views, and making up to $350 from each machine. Small enterprises lose out most because they end up doing business with unscrupulous advertisers, without even knowing it.
Moving down one more step – from SMEs to individual users – we can say that 2017 didn’t give the latter much respite from financial threats. Kaspersky Lab researchers detected NukeBot – a new malware designed to steal the credentials of online banking customers. Earlier versions of the Trojan were known to the security industry as TinyNuke, but they lacked the features necessary to launch attacks. The latest versions however, are fully operable, and contain code to target the users of specific banks.
This report summarizes a series of Kaspersky Lab reports that between them provide an overview of how the financial threat landscape has evolved over the years. It covers the common phishing threats that users encounter, along with Windows-based and Android-based financial malware.
The key findings of the report are:
- In 2017, the share of financial phishing increased from 47.5% to almost 54% of all phishing detections. This is an all-time high, according to Kaspersky Lab statistics for financial phishing.
- More than one in four attempts to load a phishing page blocked by Kaspersky Lab products is related to banking phishing.
- The share of phishing related to payment systems and online shops accounted for almost 16% and 11% respectively in 2017. This is slightly more (single percentage points) than in 2016.
- The share of financial phishing encountered by Mac users nearly doubled, accounting for almost 56%.
- In 2017, the number of users attacked with banking Trojans was 767,072, a decrease of 30% on 2016 (1,088,900).
- 19% of users attacked with banking malware were corporate users.
- Users in Germany, Russia, China, India, Vietnam, Brazil and the US were the most often attacked by banking malware.
- Zbot is still the most widespread banking malware family (almost 33% of attacked users), but is now being challenged by the Gozi family (27.8%).
Android banking malware:
- In 2017, the number of users that encountered Android banking malware decreased by almost 15% to 259,828 worldwide.
- Just three banking malware families accounted for attacks on the vast majority of users (over 70%).
- Russia, Australia and Turkmenistan were the countries with the highest percentage of users attacked by Android banking malware.