The cyber threat landscape is constantly changing, with cybercriminals and nation-state actors developing new tactics, techniques, and procedures for use in attacks on businesses to steal intellectual property and sensitive customer data, and for extortion. Threat actors gain access to internal networks by exploiting human weaknesses through social engineering and phishing, exploiting vulnerabilities such as unpatched and misconfigured software, and using malware for remote access.

The latter has seen an increase in 2023, with Kaspersky reporting in its end-of-the-year statistics report that malicious file detections have increased by 3% from 2022, with an average of 411,000 malicious files detected each day. The biggest increase was malicious desktop files such as Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and PDF files, which are used for distributing malware. More than 125 million malicious desktop files were detected in 2023, with documents such as Word files and PDF files seeing the biggest increase, up 53% from 2022.

The company attributed the large increase to the number of email phishing attacks using malicious PDF files. PDF files have become more popular due to the steps Microsoft has taken to block email attacks using Office documents and spreadsheets. In the summer of 2022, Microsoft started blocking Visual Basic Applications (VBA) macros in Office apps by default to stop malicious actors from using them to deliver malware. Macros are now blocked by default in all Office documents that are delivered via the Internet. Threat actors responded by switching to other file formats for delivering malware such as LNK, ISO, RAR, ZIP, and PDF files, with the latter commonly used to hide links to malicious websites from email security solutions. These links direct users to malicious websites where drive-by malware downloads occur and also to phishing sites that steal credentials. The most common malware types in 2023 were Trojans such as Magniber, WannaCry, and Stop/Djvu, with a notable increase in backdoors, which provide threat actors with remote access to victims’ devices and allow them to steal, alter, and delete sensitive data and download other malware variants such as ransomware.

These email-based attacks usually require some user interaction to succeed, such as opening a malicious file or clicking a link. Threat actors are adept at social engineering and trick users into taking the action they need but the availability of artificial intelligence tools has made social engineering even easier. AI has significantly lowered the entry barrier into cybercrime and can be used by anyone to create convincing phishing lures and social engineering tricks. Artificial intelligence tools are also being leveraged to develop new malware variants faster than before, which allows threat actors to defeat signature-based antivirus and antimalware solutions.

With cyberattacks increasing in both number and sophistication, businesses need to ensure they have appropriate defenses in place. To defend against attacks, businesses need to take a defense-in-depth approach to security and implement multiple overlapping layers of protection. Should one single component fail to detect a threat, others will be in place to provide protection. Endpoint detection solutions such as antivirus software are essential. These solutions work after malware has been delivered and can detect and neutralize the threat; however, multiple layers of security should be in place to make sure threats are not delivered, especially due to the increase in zero-day malware threats – novel malware variants that have yet to have their signatures added to the malware definition lists used by these solutions.

TitanHQ offers three layers of protection through SpamTitan Email Security, Web Titan Web Filtering, and SafeTitan Security Awareness Training. SpamTitan is an advanced email security solution that protects against all email threats, including known and zero-day threats. SpamTitan offers protection against malicious links in emails, and features dual antivirus engines and email sandboxing to protect against malware threats, with the latter used to detect previously unseen malware variants. SpamTitan also uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to predict new attacks.

WebTitan is a leading DNS filtering solution that allows businesses to carefully control the web content that can be accessed via wired and wireless networks. The solution blocks access to known malicious websites, and high-risk websites, and can be configured to block the file types that are commonly used for malware delivery, such as executable files. SafeTitan is a comprehensive security awareness training and phishing simulation platform for teaching employees security best practices and improving resilience to the full range of cybersecurity threats. The platform provides training in real-time in response to poor security behaviors, with training sessions triggered immediately when bad behaviors are detected. This ensures that training is delivered when it is likely to have the biggest impact.

To improve protection against the full range of cyber threats, give the TitanHQ team a call today. You can discuss your needs and explain the current security solutions you have, and the TitanHQ team will be more than happy to talk about the TitanHQ solutions that can plug the security gaps. All solutions are competitively priced and are available on a free trial to allow you to test them thoroughly before making a purchase decision.