A new report found that banking Trojans accounted for more than half of all malicious payloads observed in the fourth quarter of 2018.

According to the “Proofpoint Quarterly Threat Report,” this threat dominated the cyber landscape at the end of 2018, constituting 56 percent of all malicious payloads Proofpoint researchers detected.

Several new families helped banking Trojans beat out other categories of malware, including downloaders, credential stealers and remote-access Trojans (RATs), which made up 17 percent, 17 percent and 8 percent of total threats, respectively. Ransomware was barely present in Q4 2018 after spiking and quickly declining in the previous two quarters.

That being said, it’s clear that threat actors preferred to use well-known banking malware over newcomers. For example, Emotet and its botnet-like capabilities accounted for 76 percent of banking Trojan activity in the quarter; taken together, Emotet, Ursnif and Panda Banker (aka Zeus Panda) made up 97 percent of banking Trojan detections for Q4 2018.

More Active and More Sophisticated

Proofpoint’s findings help illustrate how threat actors iterated their banking Trojan use in 2018. Check Point found evidence of this trend when it observed banking Trojans increase their global impact by 50 percent between February and June of last year. In fact, the Dorkbot and Ramnit families made it onto the security firm’s “Top 10 Most Wanted Malware” list for June 2018.

Banking Trojans have also grown in sophistication more generally over the past few years. In April 2017, for instance, Proofpoint observed a large email campaign exploiting a new zero-day vulnerability to deliver the Dridex banking Trojan.

Other banking malware, including QakBot, has added wormlike features that enable it to self-propagate through shared drives and removable media. All the while, many banking Trojans increasingly conduct fileless attacks as a way of evading detection. Cisco Talos observed one such fileless campaign involving Ursnif in January 2019.

How Security Professionals Can Defend Against Banking Trojans

Security professionals can help defend their organizations against banking Trojans by using artificial intelligence technologies to move beyond rule-based security. Organizations should also consider using a unified endpoint management solution that can monitor endpoints for suspicious behavior indicative of malware and automatically uninstall any infected applications.

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