CISA & ACSC Name 2021’s Top Malware

 The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released a list of the most detected 2021 malware strains in a joint advisory with the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC). 

The cyber security agencies said that in 2021, the top malware types included remote access Trojans (RATs), banking Trojans, information stealers and ransomware. 

CISA and ACSC have been monitoring ransomware, rootkits, spyware, trojans, viruses, and worms and the top malware strains observed in 2021 include Agent Tesla, AZORult, Formbook, Ursnif, LokiBot, MOUSEISLAND, NanoCore, Qakbot, Remcos, TrickBot, and GootLoader.

Of these, Agent Tesla, AZORult, Formbook, LokiBot, NanoCore, Remcos, and TrickBot have been used in attacks for at least the last five years, while Qakbot and Ursnif have been used for over a decade.

These malware families' longevity is due to their developers' ongoing efforts to upgrade them by adding new capabilities and ways to evade detection.  

"Most of the top malware strains have been in use for more than five years with their respective code bases evolving into multiple variations," the cyber security agencies said. "The most prolific malware users of the top malware strains are cyber criminals, who use malware to deliver ransomware or facilitate theft of personal and financial information. Developers of these top 2021 malware strains continue to support, improve, and distribute their malware over several years. Malware developers benefit from lucrative cyber operations with low risk of negative consequences," the agencies added. "Many malware developers often operate from locations with few legal prohibitions against malware development and deployment."

Malware Security Suggestions 

The joint advisory includes Snort signatures for all malware in the top to detect payloads by monitoring network traffic and a list of mitigation measures. CISA and ACSC encourage admins and security teams to apply the following mitigations to defend against malware attacks:

  • Update software, including operating systems, applications, and firmware, on I.T. network assets.
  • Enforce MFA to the greatest extent possible.
  • If you use RDP and/or other potentially risky services, secure and monitor them closely.
  • Maintain offline, physically disconnected, backups of data.
  • Provide end-user awareness and training to help block social engineering and spear phishing attacks.
  • Implement network segmentation to separate network segments based on role and functionality

To mitigate the risk of malware attacks, organisations are strongly advised to train employees and users to be alert the sources of malware and remedial actions to take once infection is identified.

CISA:     ACS:   The Record:    Security MagazineCybersecurity Dive:   Bleeping Computer:   SC Magazine:  

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