Worldwide malware attacks are up by 33 per cent, with cyber criminals increasingly using Microsoft Office documents to deliver malicious payloads, according to new data released by Seattle-based network security specialist WatchGuard Technologies.
The firm’s Q42017 Internet Security Report, found that threat intelligence from Firebox appliances protecting small and midsize businesses (SMBs) and distributed enterprises around the world indicated that hackers increasingly exploited issues within the Microsoft Office standard to execute code.
“Also called ‘macro-less malware’, these malicious documents often use PowerShell and obfuscated script to get past network defences,” Watchguard said. “Additionally, two of the top 10 network attacks in Q4 involved Microsoft Office exploits, further emphasising the growing trend of malicious document attacks.”
“After a full year of collecting and analysing Firebox Feed data, we can clearly see that cyber criminals are continuing to leverage sophisticated, evasive attacks and resourceful malware delivery schemes to steal valuable data,” said WatchGuard Technologies CTO Corey Nachreiner. “Although these criminal tactics may vary over time, we can be certain that this broad trend will persist, so the risks have never been greater for small and midsize organisations with less IT and security resources.
“We encourage businesses of all sizes to proactively mitigate these threats with layered security services, advanced malware protection and employee education and training in security best practices,” said Nachreiner.
In addition, WatchGuard has launched a new Threat Landscape data visualisation tool, designed to provide access to daily updates about the most prevalent computer and network security threats affecting SMBs and distributed enterprises.