The World Wide Web is not a hostile realm by itself, but any Internet user should be aware of the dangers lurking on the Net. If earlier harmful software was just fun for the hackers or vandalism in the worst case, today malware attacks are a viable business model.
The commercial element makes the danger more tangible and more serious. Let us list and describe the nastiest and most dangerous malware attacks in all areas likely to cause trouble in 2022.
#1. Attacks by Nation-State Threat Actors
Nation-state threat actors are the most dangerous cyber criminals on the Web. There are several reasons for thinking so. Nation-state hackers are professionals. They possess the best available technology. They work together with the countries’ secret services and can afford long-term preparations. They are legal in their own countries, and finally, they stake on stealth, so it is hard to detect them.
The malware used by nation-state hackers, for example, recently discovered Pipedream is not targeting private computers. The aim of such attacks is industrial objects and programmable logic controllers on plants, factories, gasworks, etc.
These actors can also target banks or various state registries. However, the most shocking news was the warning by the US authorities about Pipedream-armed hackers being ready to strike the electricity and natural gas supply facilities with the possibility of damaging real industrial objects.
#2. Clop Ransomware Attacks
Like any other ransomware, Clop encodes the targeted data files, making them inaccessible. Then the user finds a ransom note wherein racketeers tell where to send money (in the form of cryptocurrency) to get a decryption key in return. Clop ransomware is extremely dangerous as it works on most versions of Windows, highly evasive regarding security programs.
Note: Clop ransomware (sometimes stylized as “Cl0p”) has been one of the most prolific ransomware families in the last three years.
After the malware infiltrates the system, it gets escalated privileges and gains permission to alter and overwrite system files. Clop creates an entry in the Windows registry that also broadens its capabilities.
Afterward, it sends data about the system right to the crooks. Clop then begins to scan the computer looking for files to encode. The target is images, videos, text documents, mp3, and other data files. The malware settings may vary, though.
Since Clop ransomware aims mainly at corporations, the range of ways it infiltrates the victim’s devices can probably be narrowed to links and attachments in messages and emails pretending to be sent by recognizable companies. Theoretically, ransomware can penetrate the system in many ways, though.
#3. Agent Tesla Malware Analysis
Agent Tesla is a highly elusive multifunctional malware complex combining features of spyware and stealers. It is an example of a harmful program that can be ordered as a service. That means Agent Tesla is a highly targeted weapon.
Agent Tesla is spyware that collects information about the actions of its victims by recording keystrokes and user interactions. On a special website that sells this malware, it is incorrectly positioned as legitimate software. Unpacking the final payload after the malware’s primary injection is a sophisticated process that involves steganography and unfolds in several stages. Such complexity allows Agent Tesla to avoid signature-based detection by security software.
The list of malicious functions of Agent Tesla is impressive: collecting and stealing device and system data, keylogging, screen capture, form-grabbing, stealing of credentials, stealing browser data, etc.
#4. Ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS)
Ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) is not anything that substantially differs from the usual ransomware. What makes the difference is what happens behind the scenes. RaaS is a business model wherein one side provides the software and the infrastructure for paying the ransom (bitcoin wallet and technical support for victims), while the other side deals with delivering ransomware and provides the prey likely to fall victim to ransomware.
AS A FACT: I want to remind you that the introduction of ransomware is one of the most dangerous forms of cyberattacks. These include: avaddon ransomware, conti ransomware, matrix ransomware, makop ransomware, etc.
RaaS gives no guarantee of the campaign’s success as it works just as usual software-as-a-service scheme. However, such a commercial attack is more likely to succeed because it is less random. The one who orders a service has a better approach to the victim, unlike a ransomware author trying to perform an attack by guesswork.
#5. AlienBot Malware
AlienBot malware is a password stealer targeting Android devices. It is a part of a malware-as-a-service scheme. AlienBot compromises legitimate banking applications, and although its primary goal is to harvest logins, passwords, banking credentials, and other fillable forms data, AlienBot provides criminals with a much broader range of possible malfeasance.
If Alienbot infiltrates the system, it lets criminals download any applications, backup data, control the device via TeamViewer, etc.
Alienbot inhabited nine applications that crooks distributed via Google Play. This vulnerability has been fixed, and such a flagrant campaign is hardly possible with this malware. Nevertheless, users are still endangered if they carelessly follow dubious links and download unchecked applications onto their Android devices.
#6. Cryptojacking Malware
Cryptojacking is a state-of-the-art and relatively light type of attack. The already mentioned coin miners are a type of cryptojacking. However, we are talking now about a different case – when victims receive no malicious code on their computers.
Cryptojackers perform their attacks by luring users to click on banners and links, leading them to the script-wired web pages. If the victim uses an antivirus program, the security software will not allow malicious scripts to run. It will simply block the dangerous webpage from opening.
However, if the victim has no protection – the enslaved processor will keep working for the sake of criminals until the end of the session. The crooks count on the massive quantities of people who will click this dangerous link.
#7. Social Engineering Attacks
Social engineering is an indispensable tool in a wide range of frauds aimed at fishing critical data such as logins and passwords for social media accounts from the victims without even employing malware. These campaigns are called phishing, and they most often use deceptive emails that make people think they are dealing with an actual company. Frauds disguise themselves as social media platforms, delivery services, banks, money transfer services, etc.
Phishing attacks is often combined with spoofing – the visual design of emails and fake websites that aims at the same goal – to make a person believe that the site they are viewing is what it tells it is.
Then the victim does not fear inputting their credentials in the signup form or any other trap. The login and password, or it might be the banking data or credit card details, go right to the crooks.
#8. Gameover ZeuS Virus
Zeus Gameover is a botnet that steals banking information from browsers by keylogging and form-grabbing executed by a Trojan. The main danger of this malware is its antivirus-evasion method.
NOTE: Often, botnets will launch a spam campaign on someone’s social media page or do it under someone’s YouTube video.
Unlike its predecessor, ZeuS, Zeus Gameover connects to its command and control servers via an encrypted peer-to-peer communication system. That makes the Trojan much harder to detect.
As the connection is established, besides stealing their victims’ credentials, hackers gain the opportunity to control the system of the infected device up to installing and removing programs. Another menace comes from an extra function of Zeus Gameover – distribution of the Cryptolocker ransomware.
#9. Browser Hijacking
Browser hijackers are not a new phenomenon, but they are still active and dangerous throughout the web. The main characteristic of this type of malware is that it modifies the settings of the infected PCs’ web browsers. Usually, the user notices that the browser homepage and default search engine are suddenly changed. Other effects may vary.
A browser hijacker is just a vehicle for the malicious payload, most likely spyware, adware, or both. Spyware collects data from the user and sends it to the threat actors. The consequences range from the data sold to the third parties to identity theft which is tangible harm.
Adware is a different thing – it throws pop-up banners with advertising right over webpages, opens unwanted pop-ups, and adds hyperlinks on webpages where they have not existed initially. It might seem that adware is comparatively harmless, but it is not so since any ad banner rendered by adware is also a menace.
Avoiding Malware: Choosing a Security Solution
Modern security software is a must-have for today’s Internet users. Despite not being a panacea, for the malware is constantly transforming and antiviruses have to catch up, a decent security program protects its user from most of the malware specimens. GridinSoft Anti-Malware is a technically masterful and economically beneficial solution. It is a versatile program that can serve as a primary antivirus or an auxiliary scanning utility alongside another security system.
GridinSoft Anti-Malware features on-run defense (background protection,) Internet protection (blocks dangerous and warns about suspicious webpages,) and deep scanning. The program is regularly updated, paying attention to the latest ransomware especially.