Trickbot Continues to be UAE’s Top Malware Treat Following Emotet Shutdown

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Trickbot is also the new top global threat used by cybercriminals while xHelper makes a leap to second spot in the UAE

Ram Narayanan, Country Manager, Check Point Software Technologies Middle East

Dubai, UAE: Check Point Research, the Threat Intelligence arm of Check Point® Software Technologies Ltd. (NASDAQ: CHKP), a leading provider of cyber security solutions globally, has published its latest Global Threat Index for February 2021. Researchers reported that the Trickbot trojan continues to reign as the top malware targeting 7 percent of UAE businesses for the second consecutive month. xHelper, a malicious application seen in the wild since March 2019, used for downloading other malicious apps and display advertisement, sees an increase in activity as it targets to close to 6 percent of users in the UAE. 

During February, Trickbot was being distributed via a malicious spam campaign designed to trick users in the legal and insurance sectors into downloading a .zip archive with a malicious JavaScript file to their PCs. Once this file is opened, it attempts to download a further malicious payload from a remote server.

Trickbot was the 4th most prevalent malware globally during 2020, impacting 8% of organizations.  It played a key role in one of the highest-profile and expensive cyberattacks of 2020, which hit Universal Health Services (UHS), a leading healthcare provider in the U.S. UHS was hit by Ryuk ransomware, and stated the attack cost it $67 million in lost revenues and costs. Trickbot was used by the attackers to detect and harvest data from UHS’ systems, and then to deliver the ransomware payload.  

“Trickbot is gaining popularity for its versatility and its track record of success in previous attacks,” said Ram Narayanan, Country Manager, Check Point Software Technologies Middle East. “The fact that this trojan has almost replaced the intensity at which Emotet targeted UAE businesses is proof that cyber criminals are relentless in their actions. The threat actors behind Trickbot target financial institutions using a wide array of modules not only to steal credentials from the target PC, but also for lateral movement and reconnaissance on the targeted organization itself, prior to delivering a company-wide targeted ransomware attack. Businesses must focus on training and educating its employees in identifying malicious emails, so they can stop the trojan in its tracks and avoid exposing the entire networks.”

Check Point Research also warns that “Web Server Exposed Git Repository Information Disclosure” is the most common exploited vulnerability, impacting 48% of organizations globally, followed by “HTTP Headers Remote Code Execution (CVE-2020-13756)” which impact 46% of organizations worldwide. “MVPower DVR Remote Code Execution” is third place in the top exploited vulnerabilities list, with a global impact of 45%.

Top malware families

*The arrows relate to the change in rank compared to the previous month

Trickbot ranks as most popular malware impacting 7 percent of organizations in the UAE, closely followed by xHelper and Floxif which also impacted close to 6 per cent and 3 per cent of organizations in the UAE respectively.

  1. Trickbot – Trickbot is a dominant botnet and banking Trojan constantly being updated with new capabilities, features and distribution vectors. This enables Trickbot to be a flexible and customizable malware that can be distributed as part of multi-purpose campaigns.
  2. ↑ xHelper – A malicious application seen in the wild since March 2019, used for downloading other malicious apps and display advertisement. The application is capable of hiding itself from the user, and reinstall itself in case it was uninstalled.
  3. ↑ Floxif – Floxif is an info stealer and backdoor, designed for Windows OS. It was used in 2017 as part of a large scale campaign in which attackers inserted Floxif (and Nyetya) into the free version of CCleaner (a cleanup utility) thus infecting more than 2 million users, amongst them large tech companies such as Google, Microsoft, Cisco, and Intel.

Check Point’s Global Threat Impact Index and its ThreatCloud Map is powered by Check Point’s ThreatCloud intelligence, the largest collaborative network to fight cybercrime which delivers threat data and attack trends from a global network of threat sensors. The ThreatCloud database inspects over 3 billion websites and 600 million files daily, and identifies more than 250 million malware activities every day.

About Check Point Research:

Check Point Research provides leading cyber threat intelligence to Check Point Software customers and the greater intelligence community. The research team collects and analyzes global cyber-attack data stored on ThreatCloud to keep hackers at bay, while ensuring all Check Point products are updated with the latest protections. The research team consists of over 100 analysts and researchers cooperating with other security vendors, law enforcement and various CERTs. 

About Check Point Software Technologies Ltd.:

Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. is a leading provider of cyber security solutions to governments and corporate enterprises globally.  Check Point’s solutions protect customers from 5th generation cyber-attacks with an industry leading catch rate of malware, ransomware and advanced targeted threats. Check Point offers a multilevel security architecture, “Infinity Total Protection with Gen V advanced threat prevention”, this combined product architecture defends an enterprise’s cloud, network and mobile devices. Check Point provides the most comprehensive and intuitive one point of control security management system. Check Point protects over 100,000 organizations of all sizes.