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Trend Micro report reveals 265% growth in fileless malware events 

In the first half of 2019, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia led Middle East and North Africa in blocking the highest number of email threats - 65,175,007, and malware threats - 976,508, as detected by Trend Micro

Attackers are working smarter to target businesses and environments that will produce the greatest return on investment Cryptomining malware remained the most detected threat in the first half of 2019 “Sophistication and stealth is the name of the cybersecurity game today" - Dr. Moataz Bin Ali, vice president, Trend Micro, MENA

Trend Micro Incorporated, a cybersecurity solutions firm, today published its roundup report for the first half of 2019, revealing a surge in fileless attacks designed to disguise malicious activity. Detections of this threat alone were up 265% compared to the first half of 2018. In Middle East and North Africa (MENA), the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia blocked the highest numbers of email threats (65,175,007) and malware threats (976,508). Figures are based on cyber threats blocked by Trend Micro.

The findings in 2019 so far confirm many of the predictions that Trend Micro made last year. Namely, attackers are working smarter to target businesses and environments that will produce the greatest return on investment.

“Sophistication and stealth is the name of the cybersecurity game today, as corporate technology and criminal attacks become more connected and smarter,” said Dr. Moataz Bin Ali, vice president, Trend Micro, Middle East and North Africa. “From attackers, we saw intentional, targeted, and crafty attacks that stealthily take advantage of people, processes and technology. However, on the business side, digital transformation and cloud migrations are expanding and evolving the corporate attack surface. To navigate this evolution, businesses need a technology partner that can combine human expertise with advanced security technologies to better detect, correlate, respond to, and remediate threats.”

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Along with the growth in fileless threats in the first half of the year, attackers are increasingly deploying threats that aren’t visible to traditional security filters, as they can be executed in a system’s memory, reside in the registry, or abuse legitimate tools. Exploit kits have also made a comeback, with a 136% increase compared to the same time in 2018. Exploit kits that Trend Micro detected for people in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) totaled 6,506 in the first half of 2019, led by 5,742 in the UAE and 378 in Saudi Arabia.

Cryptomining malware remained the most detected threat in the first half of 2019, with attackers increasingly deploying these threats on servers and in cloud environments. Substantiating another prediction, the number of routers involved in possible inbound attacks jumped 64% compared to the first half of 2018, with more Mirai variants searching for exposed devices.

Additionally, digital extortion schemes soared by 319% from the second half of 2018, which aligns with previous projections. Business email compromise (BEC) remains a major threat, with detections jumping 52% compared to the past six months. Ransomware-related files, emails and URLs also grew 77% over the same period.

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In the first half of 2019, Trend Micro blocked 65,175,007 email threats (highest in MENA) and 2,337,074 attempts accessing malicious URLs (second-highest in MENA) in Saudi Arabia. In comparison, Trend Micro blocked 13,928,015 email threats and 4,269,043 malicious URL attempts (highest in MENA) in the UAE.

During the same period, Trend Micro blocked the highest numbers of malware threats (976,508) and banking malware threats (2,416) in Saudi Arabia.

In total, Trend Micro blocked more than 26.8 billion threats in the first half of 2019, over 6 billion more than the same period last year. Of note, 91% of these threats entered the corporate network via email. Mitigating these advanced threats requires smart defense-in-depth that can correlate data from across gateways, networks, servers and endpoints to best identify and stop attacks.

To read the complete report, Evasive Threats, Pervasive Effects: 2019 Midyear Security Roundup, click here.