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WatchGuard Internet Security Report: Network Attacks Jump 328% in 4Q17

The number of network attacks and zero-day malware variants rose in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to threat intelligence collected from WatchGuard Technologies Firebox threat management appliances.

Key findings from the WatchGuard "Internet Security Report – Q4 2017" included:

  • Firebox appliances blocked more than 30 million malware variants, up 33 percent on a quarterly basis.
  • Zero-day malware jumped 167 percent and accounted for 46 percent of all malware.
  • Scripting attacks accounted for 48 percent of malware attacks.
  • Nearly 7 million network attacks were discovered, which represents a 328 percent quarterly increase.
  • 1 billion leaked passwords were discovered; 200 million of these belonged to Yahoo users, 159 million to Hotmail users and 90 million to Gmail users.
  • Over 375,000 government addresses and 500,000 military addresses were leaked.

WatchGuard blocked over 30 million malware variants (783 per device) and 6 million network attacks (178 per device) in 4Q17, the company said.

Internet Security: 2017 in Review

WatchGuard identified several Internet security trends in 2017. These included:

  • Script-based attacks were prevalent. Script-based attacks accounted for more than 24 percent of all malware discovered in 2017.
  • Cyberattackers increasingly focused on authentication. Mimikatz, a Windows credential-stealing tool, ranked among the top cyber threats.
  • Network exploits reigned supreme. WatchGuard blocked nearly 15.6 million network exploits – or roughly 258 per Firebox – last year.

Malware, network attacks and other cyber threats put organizations in danger. However, organizations that understand these risks can take the necessary precautions to limit their impact.

How to Protect Against Top-Level Cyber Threats

WatchGuard offered the following recommendations to help organizations secure their sensitive data and systems against top-level cyber threats:

  • Guard against malicious documents. Deploy regular Microsoft Office security patches, warn end users about the dangers associated with unsolicited documents and use security services and solutions that provide multiple layers of protection.
  • Keep an eye out for adware. Teach users about the risks associated with downloading free software that may contain adware. In some instances, it may be beneficial to prevent users from downloading any executable programs from email or the Internet. Or, set up proxies to block all executable programs.
  • Use advanced malware protection tools. Implement an advanced malware protection solution that leverages behavioral analysis or machine learning.

MSSPs also can offer services and resources to protect organizations against cyberattacks. By doing so, MSSPs can help organizations avoid the risk of breaches and other security incidents.

WatchGuard Launches Threat Landscape Data Visualization Tool

WatchGuard now offers a Threat Landscape data visualization tool that provides daily security insights about the top malware and network attacks around the globe.

The Threat Landscape tool enables end users to search Firebox Feed data by type of attack, region or country and targeted date ranges, according to WatchGuard. It also provides interactive graphics that are updated instantly.

WatchGuard is an advanced network security solutions provider. The company today offers network intelligence and security products and services to more than 80,000 customers worldwide.

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.