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MyDoom: The 15-year-old malware that’s still being used in phishing attacks in 2019

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Phishing alert: Watch out for these 12 email subject lines
Analysis of over 360,000 phishing emails reveals some common themes in phoney emails sent to businesses. Don’t get caught out by these ones. Read more: https://zd.net/2TUVB5C

A destructive form of malware is still actively being distributed, 15 years after it was unleashed causing over $38bn-worth of damage.

MyDoom first emerged in 2004 and is still regarded as one of the fastest spreading and most destructive computer viruses of all time – at one point, the worm generated up to a quarter of all emails being sent worldwide.

It spread by scraping email addresses from infected Windows computers and spread to victim’s contacts by sending a new version of itself as a malicious attachment. If the attachment was opened, the process would repeat and MyDoom spread to more victims, roping them into a botnet which could perform Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.

Such was the impact of MyDoom that on 26 July 2004, it took down Google, preventing users from conducting web searches for most of the day. Other popular searche engines of the time, including Yahoo, Lycos and Alta Vista, also experienced slow performance as a result of the attack.

Exactly a decade and a half on from that day, MyDoom is still active in the wild and according to analysis by Unit 42 – the research division of cybersecurity company Palo Alto Networks – one percent of all emails containing malware sent during 2019 have been MyDoom emails.

It might not sound like much, but it’s a large figure considering the sheer number of malicious phishing emails distributed around the globe – and it’s testament to the staying power of MyDoom that it remains active to this day.

The vast majority of IP addresses distributing MyDoom in 2019 are in China, with the United States and Great Britain following in second and third place but together still only accounting for less than 10 percent of spam emails sent by infected Chinese systems. Those targeted vary, with Palo Alto Networks spotting MyDoom spam being sent across the globe.

MyDoom distribution remains similar to the way it has always worked, with email subject lines designed to dupe the user into opening an attachment sent from a spoofed email address. In many cases, these are based around failed delivery notifications that suggest the user needs to open the malicious document to find out why.

Other subject lines include random strings of characters, ‘hello’, ‘hi’ and ‘Click me baby, one more time’

While relatively simple attacks, worms are still a danger to internet users. Both WannaCry and NotPetya – two of the most destructive cyber attacks in recent years – were powered by worm-like capabilities. NotPetya in particular caused vast amounts of financial damage, costing some of its victims hundreds of millions of dollars.

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The Five Pillars of (Azure) Cloud-based Application Security

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This 1-hour webinar from GigaOm brings together experts in Azure cloud application migration and security, featuring GigaOm analyst Jon Collins and special guests from Fortinet, Director of Product Marketing for Public Cloud, Daniel Schrader, and Global Director of Public Cloud Architecture and Engineering, Aidan Walden.

These interesting times have accelerated the drive towards digital transformation, application rationalization, and migration to cloud-based architectures. Enterprise organizations are looking to increase efficiency, but without impacting performance or increasing risk, either from infrastructure resilience or end-user behaviors.

Success requires a combination of best practice and appropriate use of technology, depending on where the organization is on its cloud journey. Elements such as zero-trust access and security-driven networking need to be deployed in parallel with security-first operations, breach prevention and response.

If you are looking to migrate applications to the cloud and want to be sure your approach maximizes delivery whilst minimizing risk, this webinar is for you.

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Data Management and Secure Data Storage for the Enterprise

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This free 1-hour webinar from GigaOm Research brings together experts in data management and security, featuring GigaOm Analyst Enrico Signoretti and special guest from RackTop Systems, Jonathan Halstuch. The discussion will focus on data storage and how to protect data against cyberattacks.

Most of the recent news coverage and analysis of cyberattacks focus on hackers getting access and control of critical systems. Yet rarely is it mentioned that the most valuable asset for the organizations under attack is the data contained in these systems.

In this webinar, you will learn about the risks and costs of a poor data security management approach, and how to improve your data storage to prevent and mitigate the consequences of a compromised infrastructure.

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CISO Podcast: Talking Anti-Phishing Solutions

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Simon Gibson earlier this year published the report, “GigaOm Radar for Phishing Prevention and Detection,” which assessed more than a dozen security solutions focused on detecting and mitigating email-borne threats and vulnerabilities. As Gibson noted in his report, email remains a prime vector for attack, reflecting the strategic role it plays in corporate communications.

Earlier this week, Gibson’s report was a featured topic of discussions on David Spark’s popular CISO Security Vendor Relationship Podcast. In it, Spark interviewed a pair of chief information security officers—Mike Johnson, CISO for SalesForce, and James Dolph, CISO for Guidewire Software—to get their take on the role of anti-phishing solutions.

“I want to first give GigaOm some credit here for really pointing out the need to decide what to do with detections,” Johnson said when asked for his thoughts about selecting an anti-phishing tool. “I think a lot of companies charge into a solution for anti-phishing without thinking about what they are going to do when the thing triggers.”

As Johnson noted, the needs and vulnerabilities of a large organization aligned on Microsoft 365 are very different from those of a smaller outfit working with GSuite. A malicious Excel macro-laden file, for example, poses a credible threat to a Microsoft shop and therefore argues for a detonation solution to detect and neutralize malicious payloads before they can spread and morph. On the other hand, a smaller company is more exposed to business email compromise (BEC) attacks, since spending authority is often spread among many employees in these businesses.

Gibson’s radar report describes both in-line and out-of-band solutions, but Johnson said cloud-aligned infrastructures argue against traditional in-line schemes.

“If you put an in-line solution in front of [Microsoft] 365 or in front of GSuite, you are likely decreasing your reliability, because you’ve now introduced this single point of failure. Google and Microsoft have this massive amount of reliability that is built in,” Johnson said.

So how should IT decision makers go about selecting an anti-phishing solution? Dolph answered that question with a series of questions of his own:

“Does it nail the basics? Does it fit with the technologies we have in place? And then secondarily, is it reliable, is it tunable, is it manageable?” he asked. “Because it can add a lot overhead, especially if you have a small team if these tools are really disruptive to the email flow.”

Dolph concluded by noting that it’s important for solutions to provide insight that can help organizations target their protections, as well as support both training and awareness around threats. Finally, he urged organizations to consider how they can measure the effectiveness of solutions.

“I may look at other solutions in the future and how do I compare those solutions to the benchmark of what we have in place?”

Listen to the Podcast: CISO Podcast

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