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HPE report highlights five key exploit trends

22/02/2016 by Sharon Shahzad


A new HPE Cyber Risk Report published by Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has highlighted the main threats and vulnerabilities in the digital landscape based on a year’s worth of attack patterns and statistics. HPE concludes that the application layer should now be the central focus for cyber security, while other trends such as PHP exploits and banking trojans will continue to be keenly felt during the next 12 months.

The report showed there were hundreds of thousands of banking malware applications such as Dridex and Zbot/Zeus feeding off Microsoft Office vulnerabilities in 2015. The situation has been made worse by the fact that many people continue to open documents without checking the source. HPE notes that while “many users have learned not to run programs from unknown sources,” they have not extended the same security-conscious mindset to other forms of content.

Malicious apps

Mobile apps were also an increasing source of malware last year as attackers compromised Apple’s App Store for the first time. Apple’s walled garden is set to be a prime target again in 2016 with HPE revealing that the number of iOS-malicious apps is growing by a staggering 235%, although they remain relatively low compared to other popular malware platforms such as Android. An estimated 10,000 new threats are discovered via Google’s mobile operating platform everyday.

PHP malware samples soared by 752% last year and it is quickly becoming the most favoured web development vehicle for cybercriminals. HPE attributes the growing security risk to remote shell tools that are being exposed via user interfaces on the web. Adobe Flash has long been criticised for its security exploits and it accounted for ten of the top vulnerabilities targeted by malware in 2015. The most common of these are CVE-2015-5119, CVE-2015-5122 and CVE-2015-0311.

Tried and tested

Older vulnerabilities remain the most viable way to exploit and attack, as the top ten are all more than 12 months old, while almost half are five or more years old. The report shows that almost a third of successful exploits made use of an infection vector since 2010.

HPE Senior Vice President and general manager of security products, Sue Barsamian concluded: "We must learn from these incidents, understand and monitor the risk environment, and build security into the fabric of the organization to better mitigate known and unknown threats, which will enable companies to fearlessly innovate and accelerate business growth.”

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