Released: Symantec Internet Security Threat Report Vol 23

Stephanie Gray
April 13, 2018


Symantec have recently released their annual Internet Security Threat Report for 2017, one of the most comprehensive reports produced in the cyber security industry each year. Symantec utilises their Global Intelligence Network, which comprises of more than 126.5 million attack sensors, records thousands of threat events every second, and contains over five petabytes of security threat data to collate their yearly findings.

In 2017 Symantec reported that overall targeted attack activity increased by 10% compared to 2016, motivated primarily by intelligence gathering. The trend of “Living off the Land” continued to be prominent with attack groups, as well as Spear Phishing, which reportedly is the number one infection vector employed by 71% of organised groups in 2017. We’ve highlighted some of our other key takeaways from the report below.


The steep rise in cryptocurrency values during 2017 resulted in an 8500% increase in detections of coinminers on endpoint computers last year. With a particularly low barrier to entry (only a couple lines of code are required to operate) coinminers have been used to steal computer processing power and cloud CPU usage to mine cryptocurrency. This can not only result in performance related issues but also leaves organisations at risk of shutdown from coinminers aggressively propagated across their infrastructure.


IoT devices continue to be targets for exploitation, with a 600% increase in overall IoT attacks in 2017. Cybercriminals are potentially able to exploit the connected nature of these devices to mine cryptocurrency en masse.


In 2016 there was a sharp rise in the number of ransomware families due to its profitability, resulting in a crowded market with overpriced ransom demands. In 2017 we have seen a shift from big score demands to commodity, lowering prices while increasing variants, with the average ransom demand dropping to $522, less than half the average for the previous year. Established ransomware groups have attempted to diversify and there has been a reported 46% increase in the number of variants.


There has been a reported increase in attackers injecting malware implants into the supply chain to infiltrate organisations, with a 200% increase in these attacks.
Mobile malware continues to spread with variants increasing by 54% and an average of 24,000 malicious mobile applications blocked each day. The problem is exacerbated by the use of older operating systems, where users are not updating their software, in particular on Android, only 20% of devices are running the newest major version.


Spear Phishing is the number #1 attack vector, utilised by 71% of the organised adversaries currently tracked by Symantec.
On average 7,710 organisations were hit with BEC attacks each month, the most frequently used words within the email subject line included; payment, urgent, request and attention.