The week in security: Cybercrims getting professional, ransomware getting nastier

Symantec's latest annual research suggested that the incidence of zero-days had doubled in 2015 – due in large part to the growing professionalism of cybercriminals developing new malware like the hybrid GozNym banking Trojan.

The healthcare industry was flagged as the most frequently attacked, while some were wondering how an organisation as security-conscious as the NSA could have missed the insider threat posed by Edward Snowden.

This, as it was revealed the US FBI bought a new exploit from hackers to unlock the iPhone of terrorist Syed Farook.

Such statistics may drive greater use of a new breed of tools that stop malware threats by analysing behaviour and helping companies prioritise remediation efforts.

Yet there are new threats, too, with warnings that an emerging ad-serving standard could facilitate malvertising and that ransomware authors are abusing bitcoin's blockchain technology to generate encryption keys.

Just as reports suggested many businesses were admitting defeat at the hands of ransomware extortionists, security researchers figured out how to crack the Petya ransomware strain, allowing data to be decrypted for free. This, as a new form of ransomware called Jigsaw progressively deletes a few files at a time until the ransom is paid.

Even as new sensors promised to improve the handling of shipping risks, Siemens was working to to patch industrial switches that are affected by the newly revealed DROWN vulnerability, while one security vendor reported growing attention by cybercriminals on Microsoft's PowerShell tool.

Wordpress turned on encryption by default for hosted domain names, while Facebook found itself backing a Google-made security system that picked up on potential issues with digital certificates used on some of its subdomains.

Even as Google updated Chrome with a host of security fixes – including many that were picked up by outsiders rewarded for their efforts – some were raising concerns about the use of open-source code, with all its potential vulnerabilities, in corporate applications.

This, as figures suggested the average company network is accessed by 89 different vendors every week – and that only a third of companies actually knew who was logging on.

With results like these, it's no wonder businesses like Airbus are rushing to formalise their information-security governance plans.

Even as existing and new threat vectors like the AFP's newly-minted 'driftnetting' are changing the industry dynamics, new defensive mechanisms like next-generation honeypots are disrupting the way targets protect themselves.

Yet even as data-collection efforts push to new extremes – the European Union, for one, is hatching a plan to collect data on all movements by air travellers through 2018 – many organisations still don't know what risks are hiding inside their networks or how they would survive a data breach.

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