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Sophos Releases 2017 Malware Trends, Prediction

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By peter oluka

From online gaming, to mobile apps and wearable tech, technology is used at almost every touch point in people’s day-to-day lives. However, the downside of living in this hyper-connected society means that people are also extremely vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

This year’s Malware Report from Sophos reveals just how malware is being weaved into this everyday technology, and how, year on year, we are seeing cybercriminals become more intelligent in their attacks, making it increasingly important for consumers to be wary of the dangers out there.

Whilst many consumers may live in denial that an attack like this will ever affect them, Sophos’ research revealed the opposite. Harish Chib, VP MEA at Sophos, reviews the most prominent risks from 2017, and what we can expect in 2018.

  • The extent of ransomware attacks from 2017
  • How online gaming was used to catch consumers off-guard
  • The level of malicious Android apps detected this year
  • 2018 thoughts and predictions

Sophos 2017 Malware trends and predictions 

  1. Ransomware is on every platform – don’t assume your mobile and tablets are safe

This year, WannaCry shook the world as the cyber hi-jack accounted for more than 45% of all ransomware tracked, closely followed by Cerber at 44.2%, according to Sophos’ most recent Malware Report.

In September alone, 30.4 percent of malicious Android malware processed by SophosLabs was ransomware. Sophos expects this to jump to approximately 45 percent in October. The majority of these attacks have targeted Windows users, but the number of attacks on other platforms is increasing, including those targeting Android, Macs and Linux.

Ransomware attacks have shifted in focus in the past two years, towards industries which are most likely to pay up, such as healthcare, government, critical infrastructure, and small businesses. Due to it being one of the most lucrative industries from ransomware payments or selling medical records, Healthcare has been a big target in 2017 and will without a doubt continue that way into 2018.

  1. Malware is hiding in Android Apps

When reviewing Google Play, Sophos found that the number of different threats had doubled since last year. One type of malware, dubbed ‘GhostClicker’, sat in Google Play for almost a year, disguising itself as part of the service library. It then request device administration permission, and actively simulated click-on advertisements as it delivered to earn revenue.

One of the more sobering finds was Lipizzan, spyware that infected up to 100 devices. Although this doesn’t sound like a large number, it seems this was a targeted, precision malware, which was designed to monitor phone activity and extracting data from popular apps including email, SMS, location, and voice calls, and media.

Malware such as this is showing no sign of reducing in the future, as cyber criminals know it works. Therefore, in order to combat being a victim of Android malware, Sophos would suggest consumers:

  • Stick to Google Play – Although it isn’t perfect, it puts plenty of effort into preventing malware arriving in the first place
  • Avoid apps with a low reputation – Be especially wary of this when using a work phone
  • Patch early, patch often – Check the vendors attitude to updates
  1. Online gaming is being used to spread Ransomware and Malware

In terms of online gaming, fake copies of the popular game, ‘King of Glory’ were used to spread ransomware this year. The warning screen used mimicked the one used during the WannaCry outbreak, directing individual to pay the ransom through the China-based Wechat, Alipay and QQ payment methods.

The number of malicious apps has risen steadily in the last four years, peaking at nearly 3.5 million in 2017, therefore we are likely to see this rise further in 2018, including more deceptive online gaming traps.

  1. Data breaches– they are not going away

The downside of living in this hyper-connected society means that people are extremely vulnerable to cyber-attacks, as shown in the past few weeks with the Uber Hack, which affected 2.7 million riders and drivers. Sadly, we don’t see these data breaches diminishing in 2018, and with GDPR coming into effect in May it will only continue to be a hot topic and something we are continuing to see.

  1. 2018 and beyond

It’s impossible to predict what will happen in 2018, however it’s a fair bet that Android and Windows will continue to be heavily targeted with ransomware and other Malware. Email will also remain the primary attack vector threatening corporate cyber security, especially in the case of targeted attacks.

Four trends that stood out in 2017, and will likely dominate 2018 are:

  1. A ransomware surge fueled by RaaS and amplified by the resurgence of worms;
  2. An explosion of Android malware on Google Play and elsewhere;
  3. Continued efforts to infect Mac computers; and
  4. Ongoing Windows threats, fueled by do-it-yourself exploit kits that make it easy to target Microsoft Office vulnerabilities.

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Telcos, ISPs Frustrating IPv6 Adoption by Networks

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There are indications that telecommunications operators and traditional internet service providers (ISPs) in the country are frustrating adoption of Internet Protocol version six (IPv6) by other networks, Nigeria CommunicationsWeek has learnt.

 

IPv6 is touted as the latest level of the Internet Protocol (IP) and is now included as part of IP support in many products including the major computer operating systems.

 

A network engineer with a university who does not want to be named expressed the university’s frustration to use its IPv6 address by the telecommunications operator providing them with internet connectivity because their network is not compactable with IPv6.

 

Providing more insight on this, Mohammed Rudman, chairman, IPv6 Council Nigeria, said that most telecommunications operators and internet service providers in the country have not adopted IPv6 which raises the issue of compatibility with other networks they are offering internet connectivity service.

 

“Upstream service providers in the country are not offering IPv6 on their network. For instance, among networks that bring submarine cable to the country, it is only MainOne network that have adopted IPv6 on its network. This is not good for the country’s effort to adopt IPv6,” he said.

 

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek investigations revealed that there are 32 networks in the country which are made up of telecommunications operators, internet service providers, universities, banks, oil companies among other organizations that have acquired IPv6, with only three networks using it as at today, they include MainOne Cable Company, Internet Solution Limited, and ipNX Nigeria Limited.

 

Rudman noted that while other African countries are making steady progress in the adoption of IPv6 Nigeria lags behind because of their use of Network Address Translation (NAT). NAT allows networks to convert private addresses of internet protocol (IP) to public addresses thereby making the country to consume less resource of IP addresses.

 

He added that the use of NAT is responsible for Nigeria’s low ranking in consumption of IP addresses on the internet, even as the country ranks amongst the highest in Internet penetration in world and number one in Africa.

 

Niyi Yusuf, country managing director, Accenture Nigeria, urges for regulatory push in the adoption of IPv6, he cited the case in banking sector where CBN issued a directive mandating banks to adopt tier 111 Data Centre which led them into outsourcing of data centre business to commercial data centre operators with Tier 111 certification.

 

Chris Uwaje, vice chairman, IPV6 Council Nigeria, urged Nigeria to focus on the awareness of the challenges, opportunities and benefits of the global trends of IPv6 and the future of Internet.

 

“We must activate planning processes now and initiate partnerships among business, government, academia and other members of the community. To accelerate the diffusion of IPv6, regulators should encourage the ISPs with focused incentives for constructive IPv6 transition and migration,” he said.

 

He also called for the establishment of Regional IPv6 Task force Workgroup’s as a “Train the Trainer” strategy for accelerated diffusion of the Internet Protocol Version 6 in Africa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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NCC to Mulls 14 Days Window for Unused Data Roll Over

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Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, will soon issue a directive to Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to allow 14 days window for telecom service consumers to roll over their unused data even when they do not renew at the expiration of the data plan.

 

This is giving concrete expression to the spirit of its declaration of 2017 as Year of Nigerian Telecom Consumer.

 

The Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of the Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta, stated this recenly in Port Harcourt at the programme commemorating the NCC Day at the ongoing Port Harcourt International Trade Fair, where he was represented by Bashir Idris, NCC’s Head of Projects.

 

It is adequate to say that, once the direction is issued; there will be a cessation of the ongoing practice in which subscribers to certain data regimes lose their unused data whenever they failed to renew the data plan subscribed to at the expiration of the subscription period.

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NCC Fixes Handover of 9mobile, as Glo, Others Send EoI

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has reiterated that the December 31 deadline for the handover of 9mobile to the preferred bidder is sacrosanct.

 

Globacom Limited, Bharti Airtel, Smile Telecoms Holdings, Helios Investment Partners LLP and Teleology Holdings Limited have all been shortlisted as the five bidders still in the running to buy 9mobile, the Nigeria’s fourth largest telecommunications provider, which ran into financial problem with some banks in July.

 

The companies were selected through a process conducted by Barclays Bank, the financial adviser to the creditor banks, on December 4.

 

But speaking to journalists on the sideline of the 82th edition of Telecoms Consumers Parliament in Abuja ON Thursday, Prof Umar Garba Danbatta, executive vice chairman of NCC, said the five shortlisted companies had been allowed to conduct due diligence on 9mobile.

 

Although Danbata did not give the names of the five firms, sources listed them as Airtel, Globacom, Smile, Helvis and Telelogy Holdings are the companies.

 

Prof Danbatta said the next stage of the sale process after due diligence would be for the firms evidence of strong financial commitment to buy 9mobile.

 

He said Nigerian authorities would not just handover 9mobile to any company, but to a very “technically and financially capable company.”

 

He assured that there would be seamless takeover of the company, and that whoever buys it would improve the fortune of the company.

 

He said: “As you are aware five bidders have emerged as I am talking to you and they have been allowed to access the data room of the 9mobile in order for them to get access to the financial situation of the company and subsequently make bid for the takeover of the company.

 

“But we will ensure that the takeover is done in a regulated manner, not a forceful manner. That is why the CBN and the NCC are supervising what is going on through the interim board that was jointly set up by the NCC and other partners.”

 

Meanwhile, the NCC boss has disclosed that the number of subscribers using the ‘Do Not Disturb’ had risen from 500,000 to 10million within eight months; underscoring the fact the campaign was achieving its objective.

 

He said the telecom consumer is the paymaster of the operators hence he should be treated as a king.

 

9mobile which was formerly Etisalat rebranded after its major owners in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, pulled out and a new board was inaugurated to run its affairs.

 

This was after failed negotiation with its lenders over a missed payment of the $1.2billion loan taken from a consortium of 13 Nigerian banks in 2013.

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