April 2021’s Most Wanted Malware: Dridex Remains in Top Position Amidst Global Surge in Ransomware Attacks

Check Point Research reports that the Dridex trojan, which is often used in the initial stages of ransomware attacks, is the most prevalent malware for the second month running

SAN CARLOS, Calif., May 13, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Check Point Research (CPR), the Threat Intelligence arm of Check Point® Software Technologies Ltd. (NASDAQ: CHKP), a leading provider of cyber security solutions globally, has published its latest Global Threat Index for April 2021. Researchers report that for the first time, AgentTesla has ranked second in the Index, while the established Dridex trojan is still the most prevalent malware, having risen to the top spot in March after being seventh in February.

This month, Dridex, a Trojan that targets the Windows platform, spread via QuickBooks Malspam Campaign. The phishing emails used QuickBooks’s branding and were trying to lure the user with fake payment notifications and invoices. The email content asked to download a malicious Microsoft Excel attachment that could cause the system to be infected with Dridex.

This malware is often used as the initial infection stage in ransomware operations where hackers will encrypt an organization’s data and demand a ransom in order to decrypt it. Increasingly, these hackers are using double extortion methods, where they will steal sensitive data from an organization and threaten to release it publicly unless a payment is made. CPR reported in March that ransomware attacks had seen a 57% increase in the beginning of 2021, but this trend has continued to spike and has completed a 107% increase from the equivalent period last year.

Most recently, Colonial Pipeline, a major US fuel company, was the victim of such an attack and in 2020, it is estimated that ransomware cost businesses worldwide around $20 billion - a figure that is nearly 75% higher than in 2019.

For the first time, AgentTesla ranked in 2nd place in the top malware list. AgentTesla is an advanced RAT (remote access Trojan) that has been active since 2014 and functions as a keylogger and password stealer. This RAT can monitor and collect the victim's keyboard input and system clipboard, and can record screenshots and exfiltrate credentials entered for a variety of software installed on the victim's machine (including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Outlook email client). This month there is an increase in AgentTesla campaigns, which spread via malspam. The email content is asking to download a file (it can be any file type) that could cause the system to be infected with Agent Tesla. 

“While we are witnessing a huge increase in ransomware attacks worldwide, it’s no surprise that this month’s top malware is related to the trend. On average every 10 seconds globally, an organization becomes a victim of ransomware,” said Maya Horowitz, Director, Threat Intelligence & Research, Products at Check Point. “Recently there have been calls for governments to do more about this growing threat, but it is showing no signs of slowing down. All organizations need to be aware of the risks and ensure adequate anti-ransomware solutions are in place. Comprehensive training for all employees is also crucial, so they are equipped with the skills needed to identify the types of malicious emails that spread Dridex and other malwares, as this is how many ransomware exploits start.”

CPR also revealed that “Web Server Exposed Git Repository Information Disclosure” is the most common exploited vulnerability, impacting 46% of organizations globally, followed by “HTTP Headers Remote Code Execution (CVE-2020-13756)” which impact 45.5% of organizations worldwide. “MVPower DVR Remote Code Execution” ranks in third place in the top exploited vulnerabilities list, with a global impact of 44%.

Top malware families

*The arrows relate to the change in rank compared to the previous month.

This Month, Dridex is still the most popular malware with a global impact of 15% of organizations, followed by Agent Tesla and Trickbot impacting 12% and 8% of organizations worldwide respectively.

  1. Dridex - Dridex is a Trojan that targets the Windows platform, distributed mostly via malicious spam attachments. Dridex contacts a remote server, sends information about the infected system and can also download and execute arbitrary modules on command. Dridex infections often serve as initial footholds in company-wide ransomware attacks.
  2. ↑ Agent Tesla - Agent Tesla is an advanced RAT functioning as a keylogger and information stealer, which is capable of monitoring and collecting the victim’s keyboard input, system keyboard, taking screenshots, and exfiltrating credentials to a variety of software installed on a victim’s machine, including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and the Microsoft Outlook email client.
  3. ↑ Trickbot - Trickbot is a modular Botnet and Banking Trojan constantly being updated with new capabilities, features and distribution vectors. This enables Trickbot to be a flexible and customizable malware that can be distributed as part of multi-purpose campaigns.

Top exploited vulnerabilities

This month “Web Server Exposed Git Repository Information Disclosure” is the most common exploited vulnerability, impacting 46% of organizations globally, followed by “HTTP Headers Remote Code Execution (CVE-2020-13756)” which impacts 45.5% of organizations worldwide. “MVPower DVR Remote Code Execution” takes third place in the top exploited vulnerabilities list, with a global impact of 44%.

  1. Web Server Exposed Git Repository Information Disclosure - information disclosure vulnerability has been reported in Git Repository. Successful exploitation of this vulnerability could allow an unintentional disclosure of account information.
  2. HTTP Headers Remote Code Execution (CVE-2020-10826,CVE-2020-10827,CVE-2020-10828,CVE-2020-13756) - HTTP headers let the client and the server pass additional information with an HTTP request. A remote attacker may use a vulnerable HTTP Header to run arbitrary code on the victim machine.
  3. MVPower DVR Remote Code Execution - remote code execution vulnerability exists in MVPower DVR devices. A remote attacker can exploit this weakness to execute arbitrary code in the affected router via a crafted request. 

Top mobile malwares

This month xHelper takes first place in the most prevalent mobile malware, followed by Triada and Hiddad.

  1. →xHelper - A malicious application seen in the wild since March 2019, used for downloading other malicious apps and display advertisement. The application is capable of hiding itself from the user, and can reinstall itself in case it was uninstalled. 
  2. →Triada - Modular Backdoor for Android which grants superuser privileges to downloaded malware.
  3. →Hiddad - Hiddad is an Android malware which repackages legitimate apps and then releases them to a third-party store. Its main function is to display ads, but it can also gain access to key security details built into the OS.

Check Point’s Global Threat Impact Index and its ThreatCloud Map is powered by Check Point’s ThreatCloud intelligence, the largest collaborative network to fight cybercrime which delivers threat data and attack trends from a global network of threat sensors. The ThreatCloud database inspects over 3 billion websites and 600 million files daily, and identifies more than 250 million malware activities every day.

The complete list of the top 10 malware families in April can be found on the Check Point blog.

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About Check Point Research
Check Point Research (CPR) provides leading cyber threat intelligence to Check Point Software customers and the greater intelligence community. The research team collects and analyzes global cyber-attack data stored on ThreatCloud to keep hackers at bay, while ensuring all Check Point solutions are updated with the latest protections. The research team consists of over 100 analysts and researchers cooperating with other security vendors, law enforcement and various CERTs.

About Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. 
Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. (www.checkpoint.com) is a leading provider of cyber security solutions to governments and corporate enterprises globally.  Check Point Infinity´s portfolio of solutions protects enterprises and public organizations from 5th generation cyber-attacks with an industry leading catch rate of malware, ransomware and other threats. Infinity comprises three core pillars delivering uncompromised security and generation V threat prevention across enterprise environments: Check Point Harmony, for remote users; Check Point CloudGuard, to automatically secure clouds; and Check Point Quantum, to protect network perimeters and datacenters, all controlled by the industry’s most comprehensive, intuitive unified security management. Check Point protects over 100,000 organizations of all sizes.

Emilie Beneitez Lefebvre  Kip E. Meintzer
Check Point Software Technologies Check Point Software Technologies
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