Evasive malware threats doubled in 2019

Sophisticated methods of attack that dodge detection are becoming commonplace

The proportion of 'evasive' malware threats that sneak past signature-based detection systems surged towards the end of last year, almost doubling against figures from last year.

Related Resource

How enterprises are embracing cyber security challenges

Enterprises across Europe, the Middle East and Africa are undergoing a significant transformation

Download now

Evasive malware threats comprised 68% in the fourth quarter of 2019, versus an average of 35% in 2019, according to a report by WatchGuard. The surge in these threats, as well as zero-day malware, are largely missed by traditional antivirus engines and show that sophisticated methods of attack are becoming more commonplace among hackers.

SQL injection, meanwhile, rose an enormous 8000% in the last quarter of 2019 against 2018, and was the most common form of network attack by some distance.

“Our findings from Q4 2019 show that threat actors are always evolving their attack methods,” said WatchGuard CTO Corey Nachreiner. 

“With over two-thirds of malware in the wild obfuscated to sneak past signature-based defenses, and innovations like Mac adware on the rise, businesses of all sizes need to invest in multiple layers of security. 

“Advanced AI or behavioural-based anti-malware technology and robust phishing protection like DNS filtering will be especially crucial.”

Chiming with the findings of a Malwarebytes report last month, Mac malware has also experienced a surge in the last few months. WatchGuard researchers found Mac adware returned to its top ten threats list, while a former study revealed that Mac malware detections overtook Windows for the first time.

Elsewhere, the study found that among the most common threats is a legacy Microsoft Excel flaw from 2017, assigned CVE-2017-11882, still being exploited by cyber cirminals. This ‘doppler’ exploit is heavily targeted at users in the UK, among other nations, and involves downloading several types of malware onto victims’ systems.

WatchGuard recommended that users ramp up the sophistication of their cyber security defences in light of the surge in evasive malware threats. This advice includes implementing a layered defence, instead of simply installing endpoint antivirus on workstations. 

Such an approach of multiple types of anti-malware from the perimeter through to the endpoint, including at least one implementation of behavioural detection instead of just signature-detection, will seriously enhance protections against emerging threats.

Featured Resources

The complete guide to changing your phone system provider

Optimise your phone system for better business results

Download now

Simplify cluster security at scale

Centralised secrets management across hybrid, multi-cloud environments

Download now

The endpoint as a key element of your security infrastructure

Threats to endpoints in a world of remote working

Download now

2021 state of IT asset management report

The role of IT asset management for maximising technology investments

Download now

Recommended

Bank-targeting malware disguises itself as video conferencing software
Security

Bank-targeting malware disguises itself as video conferencing software

19 Oct 2020
Your essential guide to internet security
Security

Your essential guide to internet security

23 Sep 2020
Best free malware removal tools 2020
Security

Best free malware removal tools 2020

21 Sep 2020
'NetWalker' ransomware explodes thanks to 'as a service' expansion
ransomware

'NetWalker' ransomware explodes thanks to 'as a service' expansion

4 Sep 2020

Most Popular

Do smart devices make us less intelligent?
artificial intelligence (AI)

Do smart devices make us less intelligent?

19 Oct 2020
Best MDM solutions 2020
mobile device management (MDM)

Best MDM solutions 2020

21 Oct 2020
What is Neuralink?
Technology

What is Neuralink?

24 Oct 2020