Hacker attacks up 40 percent in 2014, Symantec says

An innocent looking software update sometimes had a hacker’s malware along for the ride in 2014, warns data security provider Symantec in a new report.

Hacker attacks on large companies were up 40 percent in 2014 from the year before, Symantec said in a report released Wednesday on Internet security threats, and the hackers often succeeded with a simple trick.

The ruse was an “update” to a legitimate piece of software, with the malware going along for the ride..

Once the unsuspecting employee clicked “download,” a Trojan horse would give hackers a free ride into company networks, where they had “unfettered access,” the Mountain View internet security company said.

Advanced hackers also were using a company’s own infrastructure against it, the report said.

For example, they installed legitimate software onto compromised computers to use as a cloak to avoid discovery by anti-malware tools. Or, they used company management tools to move stolen intellectual property around a company network. Once inside the network, some hackers built custom attack software using the company’s own servers.

Five out of six large companies were targeted by various hacker attacks, the report said.

Symantec research reveals that it took software companies an average of 59 days to create and roll out patches last year—up from only four days in 2013.

Ransomware was up 113 percent, the report said.

Above: Logo from Symantec


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