Ransomware would be much worse if it wasn't for email security solutions

Posted by   Martijn Grooten on   Jan 5, 2017

Many experts believe that ransomware is set to become an even worse problem in 2017 than it was in 2016 — which is rather bad news, given the damage it has already done.

Still, the problem could be much worse: a test of security products performed by Virus Bulletin in November/December 2016 showed that at least 199 out of every 200 emails with a malicious attachment were blocked by email security solutions (or spam filters). Add to this user awareness, which leads to attachments not being opened in many cases, or macros not being enabled, as well as endpoint security solutions preventing the malware from doing its work, and the end result is that only a very small percentage of the malware sent via email will lead to a malware infection.

The test was run over a 19-day period, during which dozens of different malicious spam campaigns were seen, with the typical attachment being a malware downloader that would most likely have led to ransomware. No particular campaign stood out as being more difficult to block than others, suggesting that there is no silver bullet for spammers to bypass filters.

 

malspam_nov2016.png

 

Of course, the fact that spam is sent out in large volumes means that even a very low success rate is sufficient for attackers to make a good return on investment — and thus to cause a lot of damage. But after previously having seen how well web security solutions block exploit kits (another common ransomware infection vector), it is good to be reminded of just how much more secure our digital lives are made by security products.

The test, which was part of our VBSpam series, also looked at how well solutions blocked spam in general and how well they managed to avoid false positives. 16 of the solutions tested achieved a VBSpam award, of which six — OnlyMyEmailESET, Bitdefender, Fortinet, Libra Esva and Vade Retro MailCube — reached the standard required to earn a VBSpam+ award.

For full details, read the VBSpam Comparative Review for December 2016, which also includes more details on the blocking of malicious spam.

VBSpam-quadrant-Dec16.jpg

twitter.png
fb.png
linkedin.png
hackernews.png
reddit.png

 

Latest posts:

VB2019 paper: APT cases exploiting vulnerabilities in region-specific software

At VB2019, JPCERT/CC's Shusei Tomonaga and Tomoaki Tani presented a paper on attacks that exploit vulnerabilities in software used only in Japan, using malware that is unique to Japan. Today we publish both their paper and the recording of their…

New paper: Detection of vulnerabilities in web applications by validating parameter integrity and data flow graphs

In a follow-up to a paper presented at VB2019, Prismo Systems researchers Abhishek Singh and Ramesh Mani detail algorithms that can be used to detect SQL injection in stored procedures, persistent cross-site scripting (XSS), and server‑side request…

VB2020 programme announced

VB is pleased to reveal the details of an interesting and diverse programme for VB2020, the 30th Virus Bulletin International Conference.

VB2019 paper: Cyber espionage in the Middle East: unravelling OSX.WindTail

At VB2019 in London, Jamf's Patrick Wardle analysed the WindTail macOS malware used by the WindShift APT group, active in the Middle East. Today we publish both Patrick's paper and the recording of his presentation.

VB2019 paper: 2,000 reactions to a malware attack – accidental study

At VB2019 cybercrime journalist and researcher Adam Haertlé presented an analysis of almost 2000 unsolicited responses sent by victims of a malicious email campaign. Today we publish both his paper and the recording of his presentation.

We have placed cookies on your device in order to improve the functionality of this site, as outlined in our cookies policy. However, you may delete and block all cookies from this site and your use of the site will be unaffected. By continuing to browse this site, you are agreeing to Virus Bulletin's use of data as outlined in our privacy policy.