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August’s Most Wanted Malware: Emotet Knocked off Top Spot by FormBook while GuLoader and Joker Disrupt the Index

Check Point Research reports that FormBook is the most prevalent malware, while the Android spyware Joker takes third place in the mobile index. Apache Log4j Remote Code Execution also returns to first place as the most exploited vulnerability

Check Point Research (CPR), the Threat Intelligence arm of Check Point® Software Technologies Ltd. (NASDAQ: CHKP), a leading provider of cybersecurity solutions globally, has published its latest Global Threat Index for August 2022. CPR reports that FormBook is now the most prevalent malware, taking over from Emotet, which has held that position since its reappearance in January.

FormBook is an Infostealer targeting Windows OS which, once deployed, can harvest credentials, collect screenshots, monitor and log keystrokes as well as download and execute files according to its command and control (C&C) orders. Since it was first spotted in 2016, it has continued to make a name for itself, marketed as a Malware as a Service (MaaS) in underground hacking forums, known for its strong evasion techniques and relatively low price.

August also saw a rapid increase in GuLoader activity, which resulted in it being the fourth most widespread malware. GuLoader was initially used to download Parallax RAT but has since been applied to other remote access trojans and infostealers such as Netwire, FormBook and Agent Tesla. It is commonly distributed through extensive email phishing campaigns, that lure the victim into downloading and opening a malicious file, allowing the malware to get to work.

Additionally, CPR reports that Joker, an Android spyware, is back in business and has claimed third place in the top mobile malware list this month. Once Joker is installed, it can steal SMS messages, contact lists and device information as well as sign the victim up for paid premium services without their consent. Its rise can partially be explained by an uplift in campaigns as it was recently spotted to be active in some Google Play Store applications.

“The shifts that we see in this month’s index, from Emotet dropping from first to fifth place to Joker becoming the third most prevalent mobile malware, is reflective of how fast the threat landscape can change,” said Maya Horowitz, VP Research at Check Point Software. “This should be a reminder to individuals and companies alike, of the importance of keeping up to date with the most recent threats as knowing how to protect yourself is essential. Threat actors are constantly evolving and the emergence of FormBook shows that we can never be complacent about security and must adopt a holistic, prevent-first approach across networks, endpoints and the cloud.”

CPR also revealed this month that the Education/Research sector is still the most targeted industry by cybercriminals globally. With Government/Military and Healthcare taking second and third place as the most attacked sectors. “Apache Log4j Remote Code Execution” returns to first place as the most exploited vulnerability, impacting 44% of organizations worldwide, after overtaking “Web Server Exposed Git Repository Information Disclosure” which had an impact of 42%.

Top malware families

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

FormBook is the most widespread malware this month impacting 5% of organizations worldwide, followed by AgentTesla with an impact of 4% and XMRig with 2%.

  1. ↑ FormBook – FormBook is an Infostealer targeting Windows OS and was first detected in 2016. It is marketed as a Malware as a Service (MaaS) in underground hacking forums for its strong evasion techniques and relatively low price. FormBook harvests credentials from various web browsers, collects screenshots, monitors and logs keystrokes and can download and execute files according to orders from its C&C.
  2. ↑ AgentTesla – AgentTesla is an advanced RAT functioning as a keylogger and information stealer, which is capable of monitoring and collecting the victim’s keyboard input, system keyboard, taking screenshots and exfiltrating credentials to a variety of software installed on a victim’s machine (including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and the Microsoft Outlook email client).
  3. XMRig – XMRig is open-source CPU software used to mine Monero cryptocurrency. Threat actors often abuse this open-source software by integrating it into their malware to conduct illegal mining on victim’s devices.

Top Attacked Industries Globally

This month the Education/Research sector remained in first place as the most attacked industry globally, followed by Government/Military and Healthcare.

  1. Education/Research
  2. Government/Military
  3. Healthcare

Top Exploited Vulnerabilities

This month, “Apache Log4j Remote Code Execution” is the most common exploited vulnerability, impacting 44% of organizations globally, followed by “Web Server Exposed Git Repository Information Disclosure” which dropped from first place to second with an impact of 42%. “Web Servers Malicious URL Directory Traversal” remains in the third place, with a global impact of 39%.

  1. Apache Log4j Remote Code Execution (CVE-2021-44228) – A remote code execution vulnerability exists in Apache Log4j. Successful exploitation of this vulnerability could allow a remote attacker to execute arbitrary code on the affected system.
  2. Web Server Exposed Git Repository Information Disclosure – An information disclosure vulnerability has been reported in Git Repository. Successful exploitation of this vulnerability could allow unintentional disclosure of account information.
  3. ↔ Web Servers Malicious URL Directory Traversal (CVE-2010-4598,CVE-2011-2474,CVE-2014-0130,CVE-2014-0780,CVE-2015-0666,CVE-2015-4068,CVE-2015-7254,CVE-2016-4523,CVE-2016-8530,CVE-2017-11512,CVE-2018-3948,CVE-2018-3949,CVE-2019-18952,CVE-2020-5410,CVE-2020-8260) – There exists a directory traversal vulnerability on different web servers. The vulnerability is due to an input validation error in a web server that does not properly sanitize the URI for the directory traversal patterns. Successful exploitation allows unauthenticated remote attackers to disclose or access arbitrary files on the vulnerable server.

Top Mobile Malwares

This month AlienBot is the most prevalent Mobile malware, followed by Anubis and Joker.

  1. AlienBot – AlienBot is a banking Trojan for Android, sold underground as a Malware-as-a-Service (MaaS). It supports keylogging, dynamic overlays for credentials theft, as well as SMS harvesting for 2FA bypass. Additional remote control capabilities are provided by using a TeamViewer module.
  2. Anubis – Anubis is a banking Trojan malware designed for Android mobile phones. Since it was initially detected, it has gained additional functions including Remote Access Trojan (RAT) functionality, keylogger and audio recording capabilities as well as various ransomware features. It has been detected on hundreds of different applications available in the Google Store.
  3. Joker – An Android Spyware in Google Play, designed to steal SMS messages, contact lists and device information. Furthermore, the malware can also sign the victim up for paid premium services without their consent or knowledge.

Check Point’s Global Threat Impact Index and its ThreatCloud Map is powered by Check Point’s ThreatCloud intelligence. ThreatCloud provides real-time threat intelligence derived from hundreds of millions of sensors worldwide, over networks, endpoints and mobiles. The intelligence is enriched with AI-based engines and exclusive research data from Check Point Research, The Intelligence & Research Arm of Check Point Software Technologies.

The complete list of the top ten malware families in August can be found on the Check Point blog.