There has been an increase in the use of information-stealing malware by cybercriminals. Info stealers are typically installed to steal a range of sensitive data from a user’s device, such as system information, usernames and passwords, and cryptocurrency wallets. Infostealers typically have keystroke logging capabilities, allowing usernames and passwords to be obtained, which are then exfiltrated to the attacker’s command and control server, allowing the user’s accounts to be accessed.

In 2022, cybercriminals increasingly used these types of malware in their attacks on businesses. The latest information stealers have been developed specifically for this purpose and instead of targeting individual accounts, they are being used for much more extensive attacks on businesses, and steal system information and session cookies that allow multifactor authentication controls to be bypassed.

If the malware is installed, changing passwords will have little effect, as the attacker will already be in the system. Multifactor authentication can prevent stolen credentials from being used to access accounts, but modern malware is capable of stealing session cookies allowing accounts to be accessed. While multifactor authentication is important, it is not effective if the system has already been compromised. Further, phishing kits are now used that are capable of obtaining session cookies and bypassing multifactor authentication.

Phishing attacks have also become more sophisticated and it is now common for a wide range of malicious attachments to be used for distributing malware and directing users to malicious websites. While Office documents are commonly used, now compressed files, ISO files, ZIP files, OneNote files, image files, HTML files, and more are used for malware distribution, many of which are not blocked by email security solutions. To protect against these new malware variants and multifactor authentication-bypassing phishing attacks, businesses need to rethink their protections.

An email security solution is required to block malware delivery via email and identify and block the phishing emails that are used for credential theft. Email security solutions will block previously seen phishing emails, and are regularly updated with the latest threat intelligence; however, many are not effective at detecting zero-day threats. An email security solution with machine-learning capabilities is required to block more of these new threats, and for malware protection, sandboxing is required in addition to standard antivirus protection. Any attachments that pass AV inspection – which looks for signatures of known malware –  are sent to the sandbox for behavioral analysis. This allows zero-day malware threats to be identified and blocked. SpamTitan has AI/machine learning capabilities and provides AV protection and sandboxing.

Even advanced email security solutions such as SpamTitan should not be used in isolation, as no email security solution will block every threat. Email security solutions will massively reduce the number of malicious emails that are delivered to inboxes, but will not block SMS-based phishing attacks and web-based attacks. One way of improving protection is to use a web filter. A web filter is used to carefully control access to the Internet and can restrict access to websites that serve no work purpose. Web filters are updated with the latest threat intelligence and will block access to known malicious websites, and can be configured to block downloads of risky files from the Internet. They will also significantly improve protection against malicious hyperlinks in emails, providing time-of-click protection. WebTitan Cloud is one of the easiest web filters to implement, and can be set up in just a few minutes and will protect against cyberattacks over the Internet.

Multifactor authentication is important and will protect against the majority of automated attacks on accounts, but not all MFA is the same. The latest phishing kits can steal session cookies and bypass multifactor authentication controls. Businesses should consider implementing phishing-resistant MFA based on FIDO standards, as this will provide a much higher degree of protection.

An often neglected layer of security is security awareness training. Businesses are increasingly realizing the importance of security awareness training and more businesses now provide training to their employees, but providing once-a-year training sessions is not enough. Security awareness training needs to be regular if it is to be effective, so training courses should run continuously throughout the year. A modular course that delivers training every month in short sessions will be far more effective than a once-a-year training session. Businesses should also provide targeted training, with training courses developed based on an individual’s role and the threats they are likely to encounter. Phishing simulations should also be conducted to identify areas where training is not proving to be effective and to allow targeted training to be provided to individuals who fail to recognize threats. TitanHQ can help in this area through the SafeTitan security awareness training and phishing simulation platform.

With cyberattacks increasing in number and sophistication, there is no better time to revise your defenses than now. For more information on how you can improve your defenses against phishing, malware, business email compromise, and other cyberattacks, give the TitanHQ team a call.