Dark Reading

More Than 99% of Cyberattacks Need Victims’ Help

by Kelly Sheridan, DarkReading

Research highlights how most criminals exploit human curiosity and trust to click, download, install, open, and send money or information.

Most cybercriminals target people, not infrastructure: More than 99% of emails distributing malware from 2018 into 2019 required human interaction to click links, open documents, accept security warnings, or complete other tasks to effectively compromise an organization. Instead of targeting systems, criminals focus on people, their roles, and data they can access.

The data comes from Proofpoint, where for 18 months researchers observed attack trends to compile the “Human Factor 2019” report. What they found was an increasing sophistication and prevalence of social engineering across businesses as attackers shift from smash-and-grab ransomware campaigns to well-crafted business email compromise schemes and domain fraud.

“The vast majority of threats we see rely on some sort of human interaction,” says Chris Dawson, threat intelligence lead at Proofpoint. “We are still seeing, and occasionally will see, a spike in the use of a hardware or software vulnerability, but it still ends up being embedded in a malicious document.” Even with the use of an exploit and macros, human interaction is essential to follow links, open documents, accept security warnings, or complete other actions.

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