January 2021’s Most Wanted Malware: Emotet Continues Reign as Top Malware Threat Despite Takedown

Check Point Research reports the Emotet trojan continued to reign as top malware in January, even though international law enforcement took control of its infrastructure, resulting in 14% decrease in global impact

Our latest Global Threat Index for January 2021 has revealed the Emotet trojan has remained in first place in the top malware list for the second month running, impacting 6% of organizations globally, despite an international police operation which took control of the botnet on 27th January.

The police takedown caused a 14% decrease in the number of organizations that were impacted by Emotet activity, and law enforcement agencies plan to mass-uninstall Emotet from infected hosts on April 25th. Even so, Emotet maintained the top position in the Global Threat Index, highlighting the vast global impact this botnet has had. Emotet’s malicious spam campaign uses different delivery techniques to spread Emotet, including embedded links, document attachments, or password-protected Zip files.

First identified in 2014, Emotet has been regularly updated by its developers to maintain its effectiveness for malicious activity.  The Department of Homeland Security has estimated that each incident involving Emotet costs organizations upwards of $1 million dollars to rectify.

Emotet is one of the most costly and destructive malware variants ever seen, so the joint effort made by law enforcement agencies to take it down was essential, and a huge achievement. However new threats will inevitably emerge to replace it, so organizations still need to ensure robust security systems in place to prevent their networks being compromised. As always, comprehensive training for employees is crucial, so they are able to identify the types of malicious emails which spread stealthy trojans and bots.

Check Point Research also warns that “MVPower DVR Remote Code Execution” is the most common exploited vulnerability, affecting 43% of organizations globally, followed by “HTTP Headers Remote Code Execution (CVE-2020-13756)” which impact 42% of organizations worldwide. “Dasan GPON Router Authentication Bypass (CVE-2018-10561)” is third place in the top exploited vulnerabilities list, with a global impact of 41%.

Top malware families

*The arrows relate to the change in rank compared to the previous month.

This Month, Emotet remains the most popular malware with a global impact of 6% of organizations, closely followed by Phorpiex and Trickbot – which impacted 4% of organizations worldwide, each.

  1. Emotet – Emotet is an advanced, self-propagate and modular Trojan. Emotet once used to employ as a banking Trojan, and recently is used as a distributer to other malware or malicious campaigns. It uses multiple methods for maintaining persistence and Evasion techniques to avoid detection. In addition, it can be spread through phishing spam emails containing malicious attachments or links.
  2. ↑ Phorpiex – Phorpiex is a botnet known for distributing other malware families via spam campaigns as well as fueling large scale Sextortion campaigns.
  3. Trickbot – Trickbot is a dominant banking Trojan constantly being updated with new capabilities, features and distribution vectors. This enables Trickbot to be a flexible and customizable malware that can be distributed as part of multi purposed campaigns.
  4. ↔ Dridex – Dridex is a Trojan that targets the Windows platform and is reportedly downloaded via a spam email attachment. Dridex contacts a remote server and sends information about the infected system. It can also download and execute arbitrary modules received from the remote server.
  5. ↔ XMRig – XMRig is an open-source CPU mining software used for the mining process of the Monero cryptocurrency and was first seen in May 2017.
  6. Formbook – Formbook is an Info-stealer that harvests credentials from various web browsers, collects screenshots, monitors, and logs keystrokes, and can download and execute files according to its C&C orders.
  7. ↔ Hiddad – Hiddad is an Android malware which repackages legitimate apps and then releases them to a third-party store. Its main function is to display ads, but it can also gain access to key security details built into the OS.
  8. Qbot – Qbot is a banking Trojan that first appeared in 2008, designed to steal users banking credentials and keystrokes. Often distributed via spam email, Qbot employs several anti-VM, anti-debugging, and anti-sandbox techniques, to hinder analysis and evade detection.
  9. RigEK – RigEK delivers exploits for Flash, Java, Silverlight, and Internet Explorer. The infection chain starts with a redirection to a landing page that contains JavaScript that checks for vulnerable plug-ins and delivers the exploit.
  10. Ramnit – Ramnit is a banking Trojan that steals banking credentials, FTP passwords, session cookies and personal data.

Top exploited vulnerabilities

This month “MVPower DVR Remote Code Execution” is the most common exploited vulnerability, impacting 43% of organizations globally, followed by “HTTP Headers Remote Code Execution (CVE-2020-13756)” which impact 42% of organizations worldwide. “Dasan GPON Router Authentication Bypass (CVE-2018-10561)” is third place in the top exploited vulnerabilities list, with a global impact of 41%.

  1. MVPower DVR Remote Code Execution – remote code execution vulnerability exists in MVPower DVR devices. A remote attacker can exploit this weakness to execute arbitrary code in the affected router via a crafted request.
  2. HTTP Headers Remote Code Execution (CVE-2020-13756) – HTTP headers let the client and the server pass additional information with an HTTP request. A remote attacker may use a vulnerable HTTP Header to run arbitrary code on the victim machine.
  1. ↑ Dasan GPON Router Authentication Bypass (CVE-2018-10561) – An authentication bypass vulnerability that exists in Dasan GPON routers. Successful exploitation of this vulnerability allows remote attackers to obtain sensitive information and gain unauthorized access into the affected system.
  2. ↑ Command Injection Over HTTP Payload (CVE-2013-6719,CVE-2013-6720) – A command Injection over HTTP payload vulnerability has been reported. A remote attacker can exploit this issue by sending a specially crafted request to the victim. Successful exploitation would allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code on the target machine.
  3. Web Server Exposed Git Repository Information Disclosure – An information disclosure vulnerability has been reported in Git Repository. Successful exploitation of this vulnerability could allow an unintentional disclosure of account information.
  4. ↑ SQL Injection (several techniques) – Inserting an injection of SQL query in input from client to application, while exploiting a security vulnerability in an application’s software.
  5. ↑ Draytek Vigor Command Injection (CVE-2020-8515) – A command injection vulnerability xists in Draytek Vigor. Successful exploitation of this vulnerability could allow a remote attacker to execute arbitrary code on the affected system.
  6. WordPress portable-phpMyAdmin Plugin Authentication Bypass (CVE-2012-5469) – An authentication bypass vulnerability exists in WordPress portable-phpMyAdmin Plugin. Successful exploitation of this vulnerability would allow remote attackers to obtain sensitive information and gain unauthorized access into the affected system.
  7. ↑ PHP DIESCAN information disclosure – An information disclosure vulnerability has been reported in the PHP pages. Successful exploitation could lead to the disclosure of sensitive information from the server.
  8. ↑ PHP php-cgi query string parameter code execution (CVE-2012-1823,CVE-2012-2311,CVE-2012-2335,CVE-2012-2336,CVE-2013-4878) – A remote code execution vulnerability has been reported in PHP. A remote attacker may exploit this issue by sending crafted HTTP requests. Successful exploitation would allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code on the target.

Top mobile malwares

This month, Hiddad holds 1st place in the most prevalent mobile malware, followed by xHelper and Triada.

  1. Hiddad – Hiddad is an Android malware which repackages legitimate apps and then releases them to a third-party store. Its main function is to display ads, but it can also gain access to key security details built into the OS.
  2. xHelper – A malicious application seen in the wild since March 2019, used for downloading other malicious apps and display advertisement. The application is capable of hiding itself from the user and reinstall itself in case it was uninstalled.
  3. Triada – Modular Backdoor for Android which grants superuser privileges to downloaded malware.