Sophisticated cyberattacks grab the headlines these days. But with attention focused on advanced persistent threats and mutating malware, it’s easy to overlook older attacks that are still successful. To keep awareness up, the IBM X-Force threat research team has a new report on old favorites: “Beware of Older Cyber Attacks.”

An assessment of recent data from IBM Managed Security Services (MSS), which continuously monitors billions of events reported by 8,000-plus client devices in over 100 countries, revealed some interesting findings about attack vectors that don’t make headlines anymore: footprinting and brute-force attacks.

What’s Old Is New Again

Often viewed as more of pre-attack reconnaissance used to gather information on potential targets, footprinting encompasses several attack techniques, among them network topology mapping, host discovery, account footprinting, TCP/UDP port scan and TCP/UDP service sweep.

Generally, multiple ports are scanned, often coupled with a service (or port) sweep in which multiple hosts in a network are checked for a specific open service port. Service sweeps are often ignored by security monitoring since they occur so regularly and don’t generally warrant an immediate response. The report revealed that the Telnet port was sought out 79 percent of the time during a two-day period in Q1 2016.

Brute-Force Attacks Make a Comeback

A brute-force password attack is a tactic in which an intruder tries to guess a username and password combination to gain unauthorized access to a system or data. Often an attacker will come across a new system during a footprinting attack and see a login screen banner. A banner that reveals the operating system version will give the attacker an idea of what system-level account names to begin trying, such as admin.

Attackers may also target the secure shell (SSH) service because it provides shell account access across the network. SSH brute-force attacks peaked in May 2015, then trended downward for the rest of the year except for a slight increase in December over November.

It’s likely that the botnet known as SSHPsychos was responsible for much of the activity early in the year. The downward trend in later months reflected efforts by members of the security community to mitigate this threat.

Fortunately, many tools and techniques to thwart these older kinds of cyberattacks have been developed over the years. Organizations that apply them in their environments will be better equipped to deal with ongoing threats. Read the paper to learn more about the attacks and what IBM X-Force recommends to combat them.

Read the full IBM X-Force research report: Beware of older cyber attacks

More from Threat Intelligence

Charles Henderson’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month Content Roundup

In some parts of the world during October, we have Halloween, which conjures the specter of imagined monsters lurking in the dark. Simultaneously, October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which evokes the specter of threats lurking behind our screens. Bombarded with horror stories about data breaches, ransomware, and malware, everyone’s suddenly in the latest cybersecurity trends and data, and the intricacies of their organization’s incident response plan. What does all this fear and uncertainty stem from? It’s the unknowns. Who might…

Old Habits Die Hard: New Report Finds Businesses Still Introducing Security Risk into Cloud Environments

While cloud computing and its many forms (private, public, hybrid cloud or multi-cloud environments) have become ubiquitous with innovation and growth over the past decade, cybercriminals have closely watched the migration and introduced innovations of their own to exploit the platforms. Most of these exploits are based on poor configurations and human error. New IBM Security X-Force data reveals that many cloud-adopting businesses are falling behind on basic security best practices, introducing more risk to their organizations. Shedding light on…

Raspberry Robin and Dridex: Two Birds of a Feather

IBM Security Managed Detection and Response (MDR) observations coupled with IBM Security X-Force malware research sheds additional light on the mysterious objectives of the operators behind the Raspberry Robin worm. Based on a comparative analysis between a downloaded Raspberry Robin DLL and a Dridex malware loader, the results show that they are similar in structure and functionality. Thus, IBM Security research draws another link between the Raspberry Robin infections and the Russia-based cybercriminal group 'Evil Corp,' which is the same…

From Ramnit To Bumblebee (via NeverQuest): Similarities and Code Overlap Shed Light On Relationships Between Malware Developers

A comparative analysis performed by IBM Security X-Force uncovered evidence that suggests Bumblebee malware, which first appeared in the wild last year, was likely developed directly from source code associated with the Ramnit banking trojan. This newly discovered connection is particularly interesting as campaign activity has so far linked Bumblebee to affiliates of the threat group ITG23 (aka the Trickbot/Conti group), who are not known to have had a previous connection with Ramnit. This year has so far proven tumultuous…