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The world's biggest cyber threats in 2016 were related to money and a desire to disrupt, says Kaspersky Lab.

The world’s biggest cyber threats in 2016 were related to money and a desire to disrupt, says Kaspersky Lab.

In 2016, the world’s biggest cyber threats were related to money, information and a desire to disrupt.

This is according to the annual Kaspersky Security Bulletin Review and Statistics reports for 2016 which reveal that last year’s main cyber crimes included the underground trade of tens of thousands of compromised server credentials, hijacked ATM systems, ransomware and mobile banking malware – as well as targeted cyber espionage attacks and the hacking and dumping of sensitive data.

Kaspersky Lab research also discovered the extent to which companies struggled to quickly spot a security incident in 2016: According to the security company, 28.7% of organisations surveyed say it took them several days to discover such an event, while 19% admitted it took weeks or more. For a small but significant minority of 7.1%, it took months. Among those that struggled most, eventual discovery often came about through an external or internal security audit or an alert from a third party, such as a client or a customer.

Other things Kaspersky Lab noted in 2016:

1.The underground economy is bigger and more sophisticated than ever: A good example is xDedic – the shady marketplace for more than 70 000 hacked server credentials that allowed anyone to buy access to a hacked server, for example one located in an EU country’s government network, for as little as $6.

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2. The biggest financial heist in 2016 did not involve a stock exchange as expected: instead it used SWIFT-enabled transfers to steal $100 million.

3. Critical infrastructure is worryingly vulnerable on many fronts: In 2016 Kaspersky Lab experts investigated industrial control threats and discovered thousands of hosts around the world exposed to the Internet, with 91.1% carrying vulnerabilities that can be exploited remotely.

4. A targeted attack can have no pattern: This is shown by the ProjectSauron APT, an advanced, modular cyber espionage group that customised its tools for each target, reducing their value as indicators of compromise for any other victim.

5. A camera or DVD player could become part of a global Internet-of-things cyber-army: it is clear that the Mirai-powered botnet attacks are only the beginning.

“The number and range of cyberattacks and their victims seen in 2016 has put the subject of better detection at the top of the business agenda. Detection is now a complex process that requires security intelligence, a deep knowledge of the threat landscape, and the skills to apply that expertise to each individual organisation. Our analysis of cyber threats over the years has revealed both patterns and unique approaches. This accumulated understanding underpins our active defence tools, as we believe protection technologies should be powered by security intelligence.  It also sits at the heart of our growing number of partnerships and collaborations. We use the past to prepare for the future, so that we can continue to protect our customers from undetected threats, before they do any harm,” says David Emm, principal security researcher, Kaspersky Lab.

The notable statistics for 2016 include:

* 36% of online banking attacks now target Android devices – up from just 8% in 2015.

* 262 million URLs were recognised as malicious by Kaspersky Lab products, and there were 758 million malicious online attacks launched across the world – with one in three (29%) originating in the US and 17% in the Netherlands.

* Eight new families of Point-of-Sale and ATM malware appeared – a rise of 20% from 2015.

* Attackers made use of the Google Play Store to distribute Android malware, with infected apps downloaded hundreds of thousands of times.

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