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Nuspire Threat Report: Exploit Attacks Up 116% in 2020

Malware activity rose nearly 58 percent between the third and fourth quarters of 2020, according to the "Q4 and Year in Review Threat Landscape Report" from Nuspire, a Top 250 MSSP. Over 5.7 million malware events were reported in 4Q20.

Nuspire identified 1,030 unique malware variants during 4Q20, the company indicated. The top five malware variants detected during the time frame were:

  • Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) trojans
  • Emotet
  • Heodo
  • Multi-compressed ZIP/GZIP files
  • Executable Linkable Format (ELF) trojans

VBA trojans accounted for more than 95 percent of all observed malware detected on managed devices during 4Q20, Nuspire noted. In addition, Nuspire expects to see VBA agent activity to exceed activity associated with all other variants in 2021.

2020 Malware Activity in Review

Malware activity in 2020 began with a slow decline in the beginning of the year, Nuspire reported. It bottomed out in July before rising 467 percent in September.

Furthermore, there was a spike in VBA agent activity in 2020, Nuspire noted. There also were many malspam emails relating to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, U.S. election, invoices and legal documents sent throughout the year.

A Closer Look at Botnet and Exploit Events in 2020

ZeroAccess was the most-detected botnet in 2020, Nuspire indicated in its report. Other prominent botnets used in 2020 included Andromeda, Conficker, Cidox and H-worm Botnet.

Meanwhile, exploit attacks rose 116 percent year over year in 2020, Nuspire stated. Cybercriminals also look poised to increasingly attempt to exploit new vulnerabilities as they are disclosed in 2021.

How to Guard Against Cyberattacks in 2021

Nuspire offered the following recommendations to help organizations guard against cyberattacks this year:

  • Teach employees how to identify suspicious email attachments, social engineering and phishing scams
  • Use vulnerability scanning and other tools to take a layered approach to cybersecurity
  • Leverage malware detection and prevention technology
  • Segregate high-risk devices from internal networks
  • Apply security patches and updates regularly

The frequency of cyberattacks is increasing, Nuspire Chief Strategy Product Officer John Ayers said. As such, today's organizations must learn about the cyber threat landscape and take steps to protect themselves against cyberattacks.

Dan Kobialka

Dan Kobialka is senior contributing editor, MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E. He covers IT security, IT service provider business strategies and partner programs. Dan holds a M.A. in Print and Multimedia Journalism from Emerson College and a B.A. in English from Bridgewater State University. In his free time, Dan enjoys jogging, traveling, playing sports, touring breweries and watching football.