Microsoft today said its latest cybersecurity report noted a noticeable increase in cybercriminal activity where attackers used deceptive practices in the second half of 2013.
There is also a 70 percent decline in the number of severe vulnerabilities that were exploited in Microsoft products between 2010 and 2013.
“This is a clear indication that newer products are providing better protection, even in cases where vulnerabilities exist,” said Tim Rains, director – Trustworthy Computing, Microsoft, in a blog post.
In the last quarter of 2013, the number of computers impacted as a result of deceptive tactics more than tripled, said Microsoft.
“The security mitigations included in newer Microsoft products have raised the technical bar for would-be attackers, which may be one of the factors driving an increase in the use of deceptive tactics,” Rains said.
Microsoft said deceptive downloads were the foremost among the tactics many attackers are using in more than 95 percent of the 110 countries/regions.
Cybercriminals are bundling malware with free programs, free software packages and legitimate content such as software, games or music that can be downloaded online.
In the last half of 2013, deceptive downloads were definitely in vogue with cybercriminals. A second notable deceptive tactic in use was Ransomware. Cybercriminals digitally hijack a person’s machine and hold it for ransom; refusing to return control of it or their files until the victim pays a fee.
Microsoft said he top ransomware threat encountered increased by 45 percent between the first and second halves of 2013. Ransomware threats are typically geographically concentrated for periods of time. For cybercriminals looking to make a quick buck, this is an increasingly alluring tactic.
Meanwhile, ABI Research today said politically-motivated hacktivism is gaining momentum. While financial cybercrime becomes ever more entrenched through a consolidating demand and supply chain, the hacktivist landscape is more turbulent, vacillating constantly in tandem with geo-political turmoil. As of Q2 2014, the hacktivist threat groups represented on average 47 percent of the +200 different groups recorded by ABI Research.
“Hacktivist movements continue to provide high-profile insight into political conflicts and civil liberties debates. While the Anonymous movement has been the catalyst for localized groups to organize cyber-based retaliation mechanisms against regional targets, the latest engagements are focusing on specific ethnic and religious causes as well as the support of interests against perceived enemies of the state and culture,” said Michela Menting, cybersecurity practice director at ABI Research.
Lack of employment opportunities is the primary driver for a young generation maturing in newly-connected developing economies, said ABI Research.