January 7, 2015

High Voltage of 2015: Kaspersky Lab's short-range predictions



Predicting the Future

Kaspersky Lab, a leading developer of secure content and threat management solutions, warned that cyber criminals are growing in confidence. Before, cyber criminals tended to attack users of banking services, seeing it as the weak link in the security chain. This year, Kaspersky Lab experts anticipate high-stakes targeted cyber-attacks pinpointing the banks.

And the fraudsters won’t stop here. Kaspersky Lab security experts expect they will go for broke and try to develop new malware that can take cash directly from ATMs.

In addition to financial cybercrime, 2015 is also likely to bring even more privacy concerns, security worries about Apple devices and renewed fears about connected devices to prevent hackers using tools like network printers to penetrate corporate networks.

This year’s insights: what to expect

  • Attacks against virtual payment systems, which could be extended to the new Apple Pay
  • Attacks against ATMs
  • Malware incidents where banks are breached using methods coming directly from the targeted cyber-attack playbook
  • More Internet-bleeding stories: dangerous vulnerabilities appearing in old code, exposing the Internet infrastructure to menacing attacks.
  • In-the-wild attacks against networked printers and other connected devices that can help an advanced attacker to maintain persistence and lateral movement within a corporate network.
  • Malicious software designed for OSX being pushed via torrents and pirated software packages
  • A shift where the bigger, noisy cyber-threat actors splinter into smaller units, operating independently of each other. This in turn will result in a more widespread attack base with more diverse attacks coming from more sources.

Vabanque: a groundbreaking change
During a recent investigation, Kaspersky Lab’s experts discovered an attack in which an accountant’s computer was compromised and used to initiate a large transfer with a financial institution.

It represented the emergence of a new trend: targeted attacks directly against banks. Once attackers get into a bank’s network, they siphon enough information to allow them to steal money directly from the bank in several ways:

  • Remotely commanding ATMs to dispose cash.
  • Performing SWIFT transfers from various customers accounts,
  • Manipulating online banking systems to perform transfers in the background.

ATMs are vulnerable
Attacks against cash machines (ATM) seemed to explode last year with several public incidents and a rush by law enforcement authorities globally to respond to this crisis.

As most of these systems are running Windows XP and also suffer from frail physical security, they are incredibly vulnerable by default.

“In 2015, we expect to see further evolution of these ATM attacks with the use of targeted malicious techniques to gain access to the "brain" of cash machines. The next stage will see attackers compromising the networks of banks and using that level of access to manipulate ATM machines in real time”, said Alexander Gostev, Chief Security Expert at Global Research and Analysis Team, Kaspersky Lab.

Attacks against virtual payment systems
Kaspersky Lab Global Research and Analysis Team expect criminals to leap at every opportunity to exploit payment systems.

These fears can also be extended to the new Apple Pay, which uses NFC (Near Field Communications) to handle wireless consumer transactions.

This is a ripe market for security research and we expect to the appearance of vulnerability warnings about weaknesses in Apple Pay, virtual wallets and other virtual payment systems.

“The enthusiasm over the new Apple Pay is going to drive adoption through the roof and that will inevitably attract many cybercriminals looking to reap the rewards of these transactions. Apple’s design possesses and increased focus on security (like virtualized transaction data) but we’ll be very curious to see how hackers will exploit the features of this implementation”, added Gostev.


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