2014 was a year where cybercriminal attacks crippled both likely and unlikely targets. A year rife with destructive attacks, 2014 proved to be a difficult one for individuals and companies who were victimized by these threats.
Massive data breach disclosures came one after another in 2014 in much more rapid succession than past years. The Sony Pictures breach in December, along with the other big breaches of the year illustrated the wide spectrum of losses that can hit a company that has failed to secure its network.
Point-of-sale (PoS) RAM scrapers were almost a cybercrime staple in 2014, as several high-profile targets lost millions of customer data to attackers. The Ponemon Institute reports a significant increase in the cost of stolen records in 2014 from the previous year, which shows that using PoS RAM scrapers to target retailers is a thriving business. For the entire 2014 we observed that most PoS malware hit retailers in the United States, followed by Canada and the United Kingdom.
Software and platforms previously considered secure proved otherwise in 2014- this was made evident by high-profile vulnerabilities Heartbleed and Shellshock that affected Linux systems. Security holes were also found in various commercial software like Windows®, Adobe®, and Java™ all throughout the year.
Figure 1. Timeline of Major Zero-Day Vulnerabilities in 2014
Online banking was still a major problem for last year. Operation Emmental added to this growing problem and proved that two-factor authentication was no longer enough to secure sensitive transactions. According to data from the Trend Micro™ Smart Protection Network™, we observed around 145,000 computers infected by online banking malware by the tail end of 2014. Mobile users were also hit by online banking threats with as much as 2,069 mobile banking/financial malware seen in 3Q alone.
Ransomware made the headlines early in the year with CTB-locker infections, but we’ve been seeing ransomware victimize users all throughout 2014. Traditional ransomware like REVETON and RANSOM dominated 2013 with a 97% share, crypto-ransomware took the stage in 2014, as their share increased 27.35%.
Threat actors and cybercriminal economies continued to thrive last year. With Operation Pawn Storm. threat actors used next-level spear-phishing tactics to obtain the email credentials of primarily military, embassy, and defense contractor personnel from the United States and its allies.
2014 also saw campaigns like Regin target victims in Belgium and Plead in Taiwan.
As cybercrime becomes more attractive to the unscrupulous and as targeted attack campaigns become much easier to mount, the pressure to reassess the breadth and quality of cybersecurity investments must only intensify.
For more details about these and other security threats in 2014, check our security roundup titled Magnified Losses, Amplified Need for Cyber-Attack Preparedness.