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INSIGHT: Ransomware attacks remain biggest cyber menace, report on evolving threats reveals  

By Alisha Houlihan for AMLi

RANSOMWARE attacks remain the most prominent cyber attack menace, European police forces said in a report today.

It comes in a comprehensive analysis from Europol, titled “Cyber-attacks: the apex of crime-as-a-service.”  

The report, a part of the so-called IOCTA 2023 series, examines cyber-attacks, offering insights into emerging threats and evolving methodologies as observed by Europol’s operational analysts. 

Evolving cybersecurity and online fraud issues will be discussed at the forthcoming ‘Cybersecurity & Online Fraud Summit 2023‘ taking place in Dublin on November 29 next.

The key findings of the Europol report include: 

  • Malware-based cyber-attacks, primarily ransomware, remain the “most prominent threat” with broad industry impact. 
  • Ransomware affiliate programs have become the primary organizational structure for ransomware groups, utilising multi-layered extortion tactics, including data theft. 
  • “Phishing emails containing malware, Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) brute forcing, and Virtual Private Network (VPN) vulnerability exploitation are the most common intrusion tactics used by cybercriminals.”
  • Cybercriminals exploit legitimate operating system tools for persistence and network traversal. 
  • The Russian war against Ukraine led a “significant boost” in DDoS attacks on EU targets, often politically motivated and orchestrated by pro-Russian groups. 
  • Initial Access Brokers (IABs), droppers-as-a-service, and crypted developers play pivotal roles in executing various cyber-attacks. 
  • High-tier cybercriminals benefit from active criminal marketplaces and IABs selling stolen data, leading some to relocate due to geopolitical shifts. 

As the inaugural instalment of the Internet Organised Crime Assessment (IOCTA) 2023 series, the report is set to become a pivotal resource for comprehending the current state of cybercrime.  

Accompanying this report will be a series of spotlight reports released later this year, each of which examines a specific crime area relating to cybercrime. Specifically, these focus on cyber-attacks, online fraud, and child sexual exploitation. 

Have you booked your place at at the forthcoming AML Intelligence Cybersecurity & Online Fraud Summit 2023‘ taking place in Dublin on November 29 next. You can get your ticket on the Events section of our site or go directly to the booking page here:

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