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Transportation and Shipping Industry Ransomware Activity Doubles

November 29, 2022

A Threat Report analyzed cybersecurity trends from the third quarter of 2022. The report includes evidence of malicious activity linked to ransomware and nation-state backed advanced persistent threat (APT) actors. It examines malicious cyberactivity including threats to email, the malicious use of legitimate third-party security tools, and more.

Key findings:

U.S. Ransomware Activity Leads the Pack: In the U.S. alone, ransomware activity increased 100% quarter over quarter in transportation and shipping. Globally, transportation was the second most active sector (following telecom). APTs were also detected in transportation more than in any other sector.

Germany Saw the Highest Detections: Not only did Germany generate the most threat detections related to APT actors in Q3 (29% of observed activity), but they also had the most ransomware detections. Ransomware detections rose 32% in Germany in Q3 and generated 27% of global activity.

Emerging Threat Actors Scaled: The China-linked threat actor, Mustang Panda, had the most detected threat indicators in Q3, followed by Russian-linked APT29 and Pakistan-linked APT36.

Ransomware Evolved: Phobos, a ransomware sold as a complete kit in the cybercriminal underground, has avoided public reports until now. It accounted for 10% of global detected activity and was the second most used ransomware detected in the US. LockBit continued to be the most detected ransomware globally, generating 22% of detections.

Old Vulnerabilities Continued to Prevail: Years-old vulnerabilities continue to be successful exploitation vectors. Trellix observed Microsoft Equation Editor vulnerabilities comprised by CVE-2017-11882, CVE-2018-0798, and CVE-2018-0802 to be the most exploited among malicious emails received by customers during Q3.

Malicious Use of Cobalt Strike: Trellix saw Cobalt Strike used in 33% of observed global ransomware activity and in 18% of APT detections in Q3. Cobalt Strike, a legitimate third-party tool created to emulate attack scenarios to improve security operations, is a favorite tool of attackers who repurpose its capabilities for malicious intent.

“So far in 2022, we have seen unremitting activity out of Russia and other state-sponsored groups,” said John Fokker, Head of Threat Intelligence, Trellix. “This activity is compounded by a rise in politically motivated hacktivism and sustained ransomware attacks on healthcare and education. The need for increased inspection of cyberthreat actors and their methods has never been greater."

“Many bad actors focus on the transportation industry since a successful attack can open doors to their clients as well”, says Isabelle Dumont, SVP at the cyber insurance provider Cowbell. “Ransomware on transportation and shipping entities can disrupt an entire supply chain and lead to significant financial damages. Basic cyber hygiene demanded by cyber insurers can help thwart many attacks. This includes, but is not limited to: MFA, private VPNs and having an incident response plan.”

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