Phishing and ransomware threats hit 84% of firms: report

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Hong Kong: Phishing and ransomware-type threats targeted 84% of organisations in the past 12 revealed a new report. It found that half of US organisations are ineffective at countering phishing and ransomware threats.

The findings of Trend Micro commissioned study conducted by Osterman Research are based on interviews of 130 cybersecurity professionals in mid-sized and large organisations.

Key findings of the study:

  • Only 37% of organisations believed they were highly effective at counteracting 11 or more of the threat types.
  • A large percentage (84%) of organisations reported security incident types related to phishing and ransomware in the past 12 months
  • Respondents indicated only mid-range confidence in the ability of various groups of employees to recognize phishing attempts through email and other channels.
  • 50% rated themselves ineffective overall at tackling phishing and ransomware.
  • 72% consider themselves ineffective at preventing home infrastructure from being a conduit for attacks on corporate networks.

“Phishing and ransomware were already critical enterprise security risks even before the pandemic hit and, as this report shows, the advent of mass remote working has increased the pressure of these threats,” said Tony Lee, Head of Consulting – Trend Micro Hong Kong and Macau.

“Organisations need multi-layered defenses in place to mitigate these risks. These range from phishing simulations to advanced threat detection and response platforms like Trend Micro Vision One, which alert security teams before attackers can make an impact,” added Lee.

Respondents were asked to rate their effectiveness in 17 key best practice areas related to ransomware and phishing. It ranged from protecting endpoints from malware infection to ensuring prompt patching of all systems.

The report further split the threat landscape into 17 types of security incidents. It found 84% of respondents had experienced at least one of these—highlighting the prevalence of phishing and ransomware. Most common were successful:

  • Phishing messages resulting in malware infection – 49%
  • Account compromise – 47%

Phishing and Ransomware threats
Phishing remains among the top vectors for threat actors and it can be the first stage in a ransomware attack. It is also used in BEC raids, or to infect victims with malware including info-stealers, banking trojans, spyware, crypto-miners, and more.

Ransomware are hitting government, hospitals, schools and private enterprises and any other targets deemed vulnerable to extortion and capable of paying. It results most often in both data loss and potential serious IT service outages.

The security issues flagged by respondents as most concerning were:

  • 65% phishing attempts landing in user inboxes
  • 65% users clicking on phishing links or opening attachments
  • 61% data theft via ransomware actors

The report also contains a trove of useful information for organizations including typical attack TTPs, effective mitigations and capabilities to look out for in commercial cybersecurity solutions.

High success rates for both phishing and ransomware campaigns mean both are likely to intensify over the coming years.

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