Cyber and malware attacks grew significantly in 2014, says Dell

Rebecca Gibson
Rebecca Gibson
By Rebecca Gibson on 13 April 2015
Cyber and malware attacks grew significantly in 2014, says Dell

Dell blocked 1.7 trillion intrusion prevention system attacks and 4.2 billion malware attacks in 2014, according to its annual Threat Report.

According to the report, which uses research from Dell’s Global Response Intelligence Defense network and telemetry data from Dell SonicWALL network traffic, there was a surge in point-of-sale (POS) malware and attacks against payment card infrastructures, increased malware traffic within encrypted (HTTPS) web protocols, and double the number of attacks on supervisory control and data acquisition systems compared to 2013.

Speaking to OnWindows, Dell’s international product marketing director Florian Malecki said: “The number of attacks is growing because it is a very lucrative business – hackers can take bank account information and use it to pay for goods, or even steal R&D plans to sell to a company’s competitors. Other hackers tap into national, governmental, media and similar networks to render them unusable to make a political statement, such as the cyber terrorist attack on TV5Monde in April 2015.”

The report also showed that there was a rise in the number of POS attacks attempted among Dell SonicWALL customers. The Dell SonicWALL Threat Research Team created 13 POS malware signatures in 2014, compared to three in 2013 for a 333% increase in the number of new POS malware counter measures deployed.

Although media coverage of security breaches at major US retailers, media outlets and other organisations has helped enterprises to recognise their susceptibility, many of them have yet to deploy adequate protection.

“Many mid- and small-sized organisations have limited IT resources and budgets so they implement single security solutions on a reactive basis,” said Malecki. “For example, they may deploy a URL content filtering solution if employees download illegal content, then an anti-spam filter a few months later. Consequently, their security products operate in silos, which introduces gaps into their security system and leaves the organisation open to attacks.”

POS malware tactics became more sophisticated last year as hackers turned to memory scraping techniques and embedding encrypted malware in secure HTTPS protocol traffic, which rose by 109% last year.

“Many companies operate aging legacy firewalls that are blind to encrypted malware so organisations need to review their perimeter security solutions and invest in next-generation solutions, such as Dell SonicWall, that can perform deep-packet inspections on every single bit of data crossing their networks to identify whether it is malware,” said Malecki.

This year, Dell expects that there will be a rise in malware tailored for specific technologies and more attacks on wearable devices, digital currencies and electric vehicles and their operating systems. Meanwhile, home networks, such as surveillance systems, could potentially be used to assist large denial-of-service attacks.

“Dell has integrated the key security products in our portfolio to provide our customers with a connected security system that closes up any gaps in their network that could be targeted by hackers,” said Malecki. “For example, Dell’s identity and access management solution can be integrated with our firewall and data encryption tools to ensure that corporate data can be accessed by certain users, but protected while it is stored on external devices or the cloud.”

While Dell expects hacking techniques to remain the same in 2015-2016, it predicts that they will become more frequent and more targeted.

“Hackers are very aware that companies are investing in mobile and wireless technologies, cloud platforms and IoT systems, while employees are increasingly using their personal devices to access work e-mail or corporate documents,” said Malecki. “It has never been more important for organisations to educate their employees about the risks and develop a homogenised IT security infrastructure that protects their assets and customer data and supports their business growth goals.”

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