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Exposing a Demonic Threat: Darktrace’s Fight Against Malware Targeting Brazilian Organizations

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13
Oct 2023
13
Oct 2023
This blog details how Darktrace DETECT identified a banking trojan known to target organizations in Brazil before it was able to steal any sensitive customer data. Following the initial detection, Darktrace’s global SOC were able to investigate the incident and inform the customer for swift mitigation.

Nationally Targeted Cyber Attacks

As the digital world becomes more and more interconnected, the threat of cyber-attacks transcends borders and presents a significant concern to security teams worldwide. Yet despite this, some malicious actors have shown a tendency to focus their attacks on specific countries. By employing highly tailored tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) to target users and organizations from one nation, rather than launching more widespread campaigns, threat actors are able to maximize the efficiency and efficacy of their attacks.

What is Guildma and how does it work?

One example can be seen in the remote access trojan (RAT) and information stealer, Guildma. Guildma, also known by the demonic moniker, Astaroth, first appeared in the wild in 2017 and is a Latin America-based banking trojan known to primarily target organizations in Brazil, although has more recently been observed in North America and Europe too [1].

By concentrating their efforts on Brazil, Guildma is able to launch attacks with a high degree of specificity, focussing their language on Brazilian norms, referencing Brazilian institutions, and tailoring their social engineering accordingly. Moreover, considering that Brazilian customers likely represent a relatively small portion of security vendors’ clientele, there may be a limited pool of available indicators of compromise (IoCs). This limitation could significantly impact the efficacy of traditional security measures that rely on signature-based detection methods in identifying emerging threats.

Darktrace vs. Guildma

In June 2023, Darktrace observed a Guildma compromise on the network of a Brazilian customer in the manufacturing sector. The anomaly-based detection capabilities of Darktrace DETECT™ allowed it to identify suspicious activity surrounding the compromise, agnostic of any IoCs or specific signatures of a threat actor. Following the successful detection of the malware, the Darktrace Security Operations Center (SOC) carried out a thorough investigation into the compromise and brought it to the attention of the customer’s security team, allowing them to quickly react and prevent any further escalation.

This early detection by Darktrace effectively shut down Guildma operations on the network before any sensitive data could be gathered and stolen by malicious actors.

攻撃の概要

In the case of the Guildma RAT detected by Darktrace, the affected system was a desktop device, ostensibly used by one employee. The desktop was first observed on the customer’s network in April 2023; however, it is possible that the initial compromise took place before Darktrace had visibility over the network. Guildma compromises typically start with phishing campaigns, indicating that the initial intrusion in this case likely occurred beyond the scope of Darktrace’s monitoring [2].

Early indicators

On June 23, 2023, Darktrace DETECT observed the first instance of unusual activity being performed by the affected desktop device, namely regular HTTP POST requests to a suspicious domain, indicative of command-and-control (C2) beaconing activity. The domain used an unusual Top-Level Domain (TLD), with a plausibly meaningful (in Portuguese) second-level domain and a seemingly random 11-character third-level domain, “dn00x1o0f0h.puxaofolesanfoneiro[.]quest”.

Throughout the course of this attack, Darktrace observed additional connections like this, representing something of a signature of the attack. The suspicious domains were typically registered within six months of observation, featured an uncommon TLD, and included a seemingly randomized third-level domain of 6-11 characters, followed by a plausibly legitimate second-level domain with a minimum of 15 characters. The connections to these unusual endpoints all followed a similar two-hour beaconing period, suggesting that Guildma may rotate its C2 infrastructure, using the Multi-Stage Channels TTP (MITRE ID T1104) to evade restrictions by firewalls or other signature-based security tools that rely on static lists of IoCs and “known bads”.

Figure 1: Model Breach Event Log for the “Compromise / Agent Beacon (Long Period)”. The connections at two-hour intervals, including at unreasonably late hours, is consistent with beaconing for C2.

Living-off-the-land with BITS abuse

A week later, on June 30, 2023, the affected device was observed making an unusual Microsoft BITS connection. BitsAdmin is a deprecated administrative tool available on most Windows devices and can be leveraged by attackers to transfer malicious obfuscated payloads into and around an organization’s network. The domain observed during this connection, "cwiufv.pratkabelhaemelentmarta[.]shop”, follows the previously outlined domain naming convention. Multiple open-source intelligence (OSINT) sources indicated that the endpoint had links to malware and, when visited, redirected users to the Brazilian versions of WhatsApp and Zoom. This is likely a tactic employed by threat actors to ensure users are unaware of suspicious domains, and subsequent malware downloads, by redirected them to a trusted source.

Figure 2: A screenshot of the Model Breach log summary of the “Unusual BITS Activity” model breach. The breach log contains key details such as the ASN, hostname, and user agent used in the breaching connection.

Obfuscated Tooling Downloads

Within one minute of the suspicious BITS activity, Darktrace detected the device downloading a suspicious file from the aforementioned endpoint, (cwiufv.pratkabelhaemelentmarta[.]shop). The file in question appeared to be a ZIP file with the 17-digit numeric name query, namely “?37627343830628786”, with the filename “zodzXLWwaV.zip”.

However, Darktrace DETECT recognized that the file extension did not match its true file type and identified that it was, in fact, an executable (.exe) file masquerading as a ZIP file. By masquerading files downloads, threat actors are able to make their malicious files seem legitimate and benign to security teams and traditional security tools, thereby evading detection. In this case, the suspicious file in question was indeed identified as malicious by multiple OSINT sources.

Following the initial download of this masqueraded file, Darktrace also detected subsequent downloads of additional executable files from the same endpoint.  It is possible that these downloads represented Guildma actors attempting to download additional tooling, including the information-stealer widely known as Astaroth, in order to begin its data collection and exfiltration operations.

Figure 3: A screenshot of a graph produced by the Threat Visualizer of the affected device's external connections. The visual aid marks breaches with red and orange dots, creating a more intuitive explanation of observed behavior.

Darktrace SOC

The successful detection of the masqueraded file transfer triggered an Enhanced Monitoring model breach, a high-fidelity model designed to detect activity that is more likely indicative of an ongoing compromise.  

This breach was immediately escalated to the Darktrace SOC for analysis by Darktrace’s team of expert analysts who were able to complete a thorough investigation and notify the customer’s security team of the compromise in just over half an hour. The investigation carried out by Darktrace’s analysts confirmed that the activity was, indeed, malicious, and provided the customer’s security team with details around the extent of the compromise, the specific IoCs, and risks this compromise posed to their digital environment. This information empowered the customer’s security team to promptly address the issue, having a significant portion of the investigative burden reduced and resolved by the round-the-clock Darktrace analyst team.

In addition to this, Cyber AI Analyst™ launched an investigation into the ongoing compromise and was able to connect the anomalous HTTP connections to the subsequent suspicious file downloads, viewing them as one incident rather than two isolated events. AI Analyst completed its investigation in just three minutes, upon which it provided a detailed summary of events of the activity, further aiding the customer’s remediation process.

Figure 4: CyberAI Analyst summary of the suspicious activity. A prose summary of the breach activity and the meaning of the technical details is included to maintain an easily digestible stream of information.

結論

While the combination of TTPs observed in this Guildma RAT compromise is not uncommon globally, the specificity to targeting organizations in Brazil allows it to be incredibly effective. By focussing on just one country, malicious actors are able to launch highly specialized attacks, adapting the language used and tailoring the social engineering effectively to achieve maximum success. Moreover, as Brazil likely represents a smaller segment of security vendors’ customers, therefore leading to a limited pool of IoCs, attackers are often able to evade traditional signature-based detections.

Darktrace DETECT’s anomaly-based approach to threat detection allows for effective detection, mitigation, and response to emerging threats, regardless of the specifics of the attack and without relying on threat intelligence or previous IoCs. Ultimately in this case, Darktrace was able to identify the suspicious activity surrounding the Guildma compromise and swiftly bring it to the attention of the customer’s security team, before any data gathering, or exfiltration activity took place.

Darktrace’s threat detection capabilities coupled with its expert analyst team and round-the-clock SOC response is a highly effective addition to an organization’s defense-in-depth, whether in Brazil or anywhere else around the world.

Credit to Roberto Romeu, Senior SOC Analyst, Taylor Breland, Analyst Team Lead, San Francisco

参考文献

https://malpedia.caad.fkie.fraunhofer.de/details/win.astaroth

https://www.welivesecurity.com/2020/03/05/guildma-devil-drives-electric/  

付録

Darktrace DETECT Model Breaches

  • Compromise / Agent Beacon (Long Period)
  • Device / Unusual BITS Activity
  • Anomalous File / Anomalous Octet Stream (No User Agent)
  • Anomalous File / Masqueraded File Transfer (Enhanced Monitoring Model)
  • Anomalous File / EXE from Rare External Location
  • Anomalous File / Multiple EXE from Rare External Locations

IoC一覧

IoC Type - Description + Confidence

5q710e1srxk.broilhasoruikaliventiladorrta[.]shop - Domain - Likely C2 server

m2pkdlse8md.roilhasohlcortinartai[.]hair - Domain - Likely C2 server

cwiufv.pratkabelhaemelentmarta[.]shop - Domain - C2 server

482w5pct234.jaroilcasacorkalilc[.]ru[.]com - Domain - C2 server

dn00x1o0f0h.puxaofolesanfoneiro[.]quest - Domain - Likely C2 server

10v7mybga55.futurefrontier[.]cyou - Domain - Likely C2 server

f788gbgdclp.growthgenerator[.]cyou - Domain - Likely C2 server

6nieek.satqabelhaeiloumelsmarta[.]shop - Domain - Likely C2 server

zodzXLWwaV.zip (SHA1 Hash: 2a4062e10a5de813f5688221dbeb3f3ff33eb417 ) - File hash - Malware

IZJQCAOXQb.zip (SHA1 Hash: eaec1754a69c50eac99e774b07ef156a1ca6de06 ) - File hash - Likely malware

MITRE ATT&CK マッピング

ATT&CK Technique - Technique ID

Multi-Stage Channels - T1104

BITS Jobs - T1197

Application Layer Protocol: Web Protocols - T1071.001

Acquire Infrastructure: Web Services - T1583.006

Obtain Capabilities: Malware - T1588.001

Masquerading - T1036

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Darktrace cyber analysts are world-class experts in threat intelligence, threat hunting and incident response, and provide 24/7 SOC support to thousands of Darktrace customers around the globe. Inside the SOC is exclusively authored by these experts, providing analysis of cyber incidents and threat trends, based on real-world experience in the field.
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Roberto Romeu
Senior SOC Analyst
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Gootloader Malware: Detecting and Containing Multi-Functional Threats with Darktrace

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Feb 2024

What is multi-functional malware?

While traditional malware variants were designed with one specific objective in mind, the emergence of multi-functional malware, such as loader malware, means that organizations are likely to be confronted with multiple malicious tools and strains of malware at once. These threats often have non-linear attack patterns and kill chains that can quickly adapt and progress quicker than human security teams are able to react. Therefore, it is more important than ever for organizations to adopt an anomaly approach to combat increasingly versatile and fast-moving threats.

Example of Multi-functional malware

One example of a multi-functional malware recently observed by Darktrace can be seen in Gootloader, a multi-payload loader variant that has been observed in the wild since 2020. It is known to primarily target Windows-based systems across multiple industries in the US, Canada, France, Germany, and South Korea [1].  

How does Gootloader malware work?

Once installed on a target network, Gootloader can download additional malicious payloads that allow threat actors to carry out a range of harmful activities, such as stealing sensitive information or encrypting files for ransom.

The Gootloader malware is known to infect networks via search engine optimization (SEO) poisoning, directing users searching for legitimate documents to compromised websites hosting a malicious payload masquerading as the desired file.

If the malware remains undetected, it paves the way for a second stage payload known as Gootkit, which functions as a banking trojan and information-stealer, or other malware tools including Cobalt Strike and Osiris [2].

Darktrace detection of Gootloader malware

In late 2023, Darktrace observed one instance of Gootloader affecting a customer in the US. Thanks to its anomaly-focused approach, Darktrace DETECT™ quickly identified the anomalous activity surrounding this emerging attack and brought it to the immediate attention of the customer’s security team. All the while, Darktrace RESPOND™ was in place and able to autonomously intervene, containing the suspicious activity and ensuring the Gootloader compromise could not progress any further.

In September 2023, Darktrace identified an instance of the Gootloader malware attempting to propagate within the network of a customer in the US. Darktrace identified the first indications of the compromise when it detected a device beaconing to an unusual external location and performing network scanning. Following this, the device was observed making additional command-and-control (C2) connections, before finally downloading an executable (.exe) file which likely represented the download of a further malicious payload.

As this customer had subscribed to the Proactive Notification Service (PTN), the suspicious activity was escalated to the Darktrace Security Operations Center (SOC) for further investigation by Darktrace’s expert analysts. The SOC team were able to promptly triage the incident and advise urgent follow-up actions.

Gootloader Attack Overview

Figure 1: Timeline of Anomalous Activities seen on the breach device.

Initial Beaconing and Scanning Activity

On September 21, 2023, Darktrace observed the first indications of compromise on the network when a device began to make regular connections to an external endpoint that was considered extremely rare for the network, namely ‘analyzetest[.]ir’.

Although the endpoint did not overtly seem malicious in nature (it appeared to be related to laboratory testing), Darktrace recognized that it had never previously been seen on the customer’s network and therefore should be treated with caution.  This initial beaconing activity was just the beginning of the malicious C2 communications, with several additional instances of beaconing detected to numerous suspicious endpoints, including funadhoo.gov[.]mv, tdgroup[.]ru’ and ‘army.mil[.]ng.

Figure 2: Initial beaconing activity detected on the breach device.

Soon thereafter, Darktrace detected the device performing internal reconnaissance, with an unusually large number of connections to other internal locations observed. This scanning activity appeared to primarily be targeting the SMB protocol by scanning port 445.

Within seconds of DETECT’s detection of this suspicious SMB scanning activity, Darktrace RESPOND moved to contain the compromise by blocking the device from connecting to port 445 and enforcing its ‘pattern of life’. Darktrace’s Self-Learning AI enables it to learn a device’s normal behavior and recognize if it deviates from this; by enforcing a pattern of life on an affected device, malicious activity is inhibited but the device is allowed to continue its expected activity, minimizing disruption to business operations.

Figure 3: The breach device Model Breach Event Log showing Darktrace DETECT identifying suspicious SMB scanning activity and the corresponding RESPOND actions.

Following the initial detection of this anomalous activity, Darktrace’s Cyber AI Analyst launched an autonomous investigation into the beaconing and scanning activity and was able to connect these seemingly separate events into one incident. AI Analyst analyzes thousands of connections to hundreds of different endpoints at machine speed and then summarizes its findings in a single pane of glass, giving customers the necessary information to assess the threat and begin remediation if necessary. This significantly lessens the burden for human security teams, saving them previous time and resources, while ensuring they maintain full visibility over any suspicious activity on their network.

Figure 4: Cyber AI Analyst incident log summarizing the technical details of the device’s beaconing and scanning behavior.

Beaconing Continues

Darktrace continued to observe the device carrying out beaconing activity over the next few days, likely representing threat actors attempting to establish communication with their malicious infrastructure and setting up a foothold within the customer’s environment. In one such example, the device was seen connecting to the suspicious endpoint ‘fysiotherapie-panken[.]nl’. Multiple open-source intelligence (OSINT) vendors reported this endpoint to be a known malware delivery host [3].

Once again, Darktrace RESPOND was in place to quickly intervene in response to these suspicious external connection attempts. Over the course of several days, RESPOND blocked the offending device from connecting to suspicious endpoints via port 443 and enforced its pattern of life. These autonomous actions by RESPOND effectively mitigated and contained the attack, preventing it from escalating further along the kill chain and providing the customer’s security team crucial time to take act and employ their own remediation.

Figure 5: A sample of the autonomous RESPOND actions that was applied on the affected device.

Possible Payload Retrieval

A few days later, on September 26, 2023, Darktrace observed the affected device attempting to download a Windows Portable Executable via file transfer protocol (FTP) from the external location ‘ftp2[.]sim-networks[.]com’, which had never previously been seen on the network. This download likely represented the next step in the Gootloader infection, wherein additional malicious tooling is downloaded to further cement the malicious actors’ control over the device. In response, Darktrace RESPOND immediately blocked the device from making any external connections, ensuring it could not download any suspicious files that may have rapidly escalated the attackers’ efforts.

Figure 6: DETECT’s identification of the offending device downloading a suspicious executable file via FTP.

The observed combination of beaconing activity and a suspicious file download triggered an Enhanced Monitoring breach, a high-fidelity DETECT model designed to detect activities that are more likely to be indicative of compromise. These models are monitored by the Darktrace SOC round the clock and investigated by Darktrace’s expert team of analysts as soon as suspicious activity emerges.

In this case, Darktrace’s SOC triaged the emerging activity and sent an additional notice directly to the customer’s security team, informing them of the compromise and advising on next steps. As this customer had subscribed to Darktrace’s Ask the Expert (ATE) service, they also had a team of expert analysts available to them at any time to aid their investigations.

Figure 7: Enhanced Monitoring Model investigated by the Darktrace SOC.

結論

Loader malware variants such as Gootloader often lay the groundwork for further, potentially more severe threats to be deployed within compromised networks. As such, it is crucial for organizations and their security teams to identify these threats as soon as they emerge and ensure they are effectively contained before additional payloads, like information-stealing malware or ransomware, can be downloaded.

In this instance, Darktrace demonstrated its value when faced with a multi-payload threat by detecting Gootloader at the earliest stage and responding to it with swift targeted actions, halting any suspicious connections and preventing the download of any additional malicious tooling.

Darktrace DETECT recognized that the beaconing and scanning activity performed by the affected device represented a deviation from its expected behavior and was indicative of a potential network compromise. Meanwhile, Darktrace RESPOND ensured that any suspicious activity was promptly shut down, buying crucial time for the customer’s security team to work with Darktrace’s SOC to investigate the threat and quarantine the compromised device.

Credit to: Ashiq Shafee, Cyber Security Analyst, Qing Hong Kwa, Senior Cyber Analyst and Deputy Analyst Team Lead, Singapore

付録

Darktrace DETECT によるモデル検知

Anomalous Connection / Rare External SSL Self-Signed

Device / Suspicious SMB Scanning Activity

Anomalous Connection / Young or Invalid Certificate SSL Connections to Rare

Compromise / High Volume of Connections with Beacon Score

Compromise / Beacon to Young Endpoint

Compromise / Beaconing Activity To External Rare

Compromise / Slow Beaconing Activity To External Rare

Compromise / Beacon for 4 Days

Anomalous Connection / Suspicious Expired SSL

Anomalous Connection / Multiple Failed Connections to Rare Endpoint

Compromise / Sustained SSL or HTTP Increase

Compromise / Large Number of Suspicious Successful Connections

Compromise / Large Number of Suspicious Failed Connections

Device / Large Number of Model Breaches

Anomalous File / FTP Executable from Rare External Location

Device / Initial Breach Chain Compromise

RESPOND Models

Antigena / Network / Significant Anomaly / Antigena Breaches Over Time Block

Antigena / Network / Significant Anomaly / Antigena Significant Anomaly from Client Block

Antigena / Network/Insider Threat/Antigena Network Scan Block

Antigena / Network / Significant Anomaly / Antigena Enhanced Monitoring from Client Block

Antigena / Network / External Threat / Antigena Suspicious File Block

Antigena / Network / External Threat / Antigena File then New Outbound Block

Antigena / Network / External Threat / Antigena Suspicious Activity Block

侵害指標(IoC)一覧

Type

Hostname

IoCs + Description

explorer[.]ee - C2 Endpoint

fysiotherapie-panken[.]nl- C2 Endpoint

devcxp2019.theclearingexperience[.]com- C2 Endpoint

campsite.bplaced[.]net- C2 Endpoint

coup2pompes[.]fr- C2 Endpoint

analyzetest[.]ir- Possible C2 Endpoint

tdgroup[.]ru- C2 Endpoint

ciedespuys[.]com- C2 Endpoint

fi.sexydate[.]world- C2 Endpoint

funadhoo.gov[.]mv- C2 Endpoint

geying.qiwufeng[.]com- C2 Endpoint

goodcomix[.]fun- C2 Endpoint

ftp2[.]sim-networks[.]com- Possible Payload Download Host

MITRE ATT&CK マッピング

Tactic – Technique

Reconnaissance - Scanning IP blocks (T1595.001, T1595)

Command and Control - Web Protocols , Application Layer Protocol, One-Way Communication, External Proxy, Non-Application Layer Protocol, Non-Standard Port (T1071.001/T1071, T1071, T1102.003/T1102, T1090.002/T1090, T1095, T1571)

Collection – Man in the Browser (T1185)

Resource Development - Web Services, Malware (T1583.006/T1583, T1588.001/T1588)

Persistence - Browser Extensions (T1176)

参考文献

1.     https://www.blackberry.com/us/en/solutions/endpoint-security/ransomware-protection/gootloader

2.     https://redcanary.com/threat-detection-report/threats/gootloader/

3.     https://www.virustotal.com/gui/domain/fysiotherapie-panken.nl

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Ashiq Shafee
Cyber Security Analyst

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Seven Cyber Security Predictions for 2024

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13
Feb 2024

2024 Cyber Threat Predictions

After analyzing the observed threats and trends that have affected customers across the Darktrace fleet in the second half of 2023, the Darktrace Threat Research team have made a series of predictions. These assessments highlight the threats that are expected to impact Darktrace customers and the wider threat landscape in 2024.  

1. Initial access broker malware, especially loader malware, is likely to be a prominent threat.  

Initial access malware such as loaders, information stealers, remote access trojans (RATs), and downloaders, will probably remain some of the most relevant threats to most organizations, especially when noted in the context that many are interoperable, tailorable Malware-as-a-Service (MaaS) tools.  

These types of malware often serve as a gateway for threat actors to compromise a target network before launching subsequent, and often more severe, attacks. Would-be cyber criminals are now able to purchase and deploy these malware without the need for technical expertise.  

2. Infrastructure complexity will increase SaaS attacks and leave cloud environments vulnerable.

The increasing reliance on SaaS solutions and platforms for business operations, coupled with larger attack surfaces than ever before, make it likely that attackers will continue targeting organizations’ cloud environments with account takeovers granting unauthorized access to privileged accounts. These account hijacks can be further exploited to perform a variety of nefarious activities, such as data exfiltration or launching phishing campaigns.  

It is paramount for organizations to not only fortify their SaaS environments with security strategies including multifactor authentication (MFA), regular monitoring of credential usage, and strict access control, but moreover augment SaaS security using anomaly detection.  

3. The prevalence and evolution of ransomware will surge.

The Darktrace Threat Research team anticipates a surge in Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) attacks, marking a shift away from conventional ransomware. The uptick in RaaS observed in 2023 evidences that ransomware itself is becoming increasingly accessible, lowering the barrier to entry for threat actors. This surge also demonstrates how lucrative RaaS is for ransomware operators in the current threat landscape, further reinforcing a rise in RaaS.  

This development is likely to coincide with a pivot away from traditional encryption-centric ransomware tactics towards more sophisticated and advanced extortion methods. Rather than relying solely on encrypting a target’s data for ransom, malicious actors are expected to employ double or even triple extortion strategies, encrypting sensitive data but also threatening to leak or sell stolen data unless their ransom demands are met.  

4. Threat actors will continue to rely on living-off-the-land techniques.

With evolving sophistication of security tools and greater industry adoption of AI techniques, threat actors have focused more and more on living-off-the-land. The extremely high volume of vulnerabilities discovered in 2023 highlights threat actors’ persistent need to compromise trusted organizational mechanisms and infrastructure to gain a foothold in networks. Although inbox intrusions remain prevalent, the exploitation of edge infrastructure has demonstrably expanded compared to previously endpoint-focused attacks.

Given the prevalence of endpoint evasion techniques and the high proportion of tactics utilizing native programs, threat actors will likely progressively live off the land, even utilizing new techniques or vulnerabilities to do so, rather than relying on unidentified malicious programs which evade traditional detection.

5. The “as-a-Service” marketplace will contribute to an increase in multi-phase compromises.

With the increasing “as-a-Service” marketplaces, it is likely that organizations will face more multi-phase compromises, where one strain of malware is observed stealing information and that data is sold to additional threat actors or utilized for second and/or third-stage malware or ransomware.  

This trend builds on the concept of initial access brokers but utilizes basic browser scraping and data harvesting to make as much profit throughout the compromise process as possible. This will likely result in security teams observing multiple malicious tools and strains of malware during incident response and/or multi-functional malware, with attack cycles and kill chains morphing into less linear and more abstract chains of activity. This makes it more essential than ever for security teams to apply an anomaly approach to stay ahead of asymmetric threats.  

6. Generative AI will let attackers phish across language barriers.

Classic phishing scams play a numbers game, targeting as many inboxes as possible and hoping that some users take the bait, even if there are spelling and grammar errors in the email. Now, Generative AI has reduced the barrier for entry, so malicious actors do not have to speak English to produce a convincing phishing email.  

In 2024, we anticipate this to extend to other languages and regions. For example, many countries in Asia have not yet been greatly impacted by phishing. Yet Generative AI continues to develop, with improved data input yielding improved output. More phishing emails will start to be generated in various languages with increasing sophistication.    

7. AI regulation and data privacy rules will stifle AI adoption.

AI regulation, like the European Union’s AI Act and NIS2, is starting to be implemented around the world. As policies continue to come out about AI and data privacy, practical and pragmatic AI adoption becomes more complex.  

Businesses will likely have to take a second look at AI they are adopting into their tech stacks to consider what may happen if a tool is suddenly deprecated because it is no longer fit for purpose or loses the approvals in place. Many will also have to use completely different supply chain evaluations from their usual ones based on developing compliance registrars. This increased complication may make businesses reticent to adopt innovative AI solutions as legislation scrambles to keep up.  

Learn more about observed threat trends and future predictions in the 2023 End of Year Threat Report

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