The health, public, and education sectors comprised more than half of total malware incidents, according to the IT security product company McAfee Labs in a report on growth trends in malware, ransomware, mobile malware, and other IT threats for the first quarter of 2017.
Steganography is the art and science of hiding secret messages. In the digital world, it is the practice of concealing messages in images, audio tracks, video clips, or text files. Often, digital steganography is used by malware authors to avoid detection by security systems. The first known use of steganography in a cyberattack was in the Duqu malware in 2011. When using a digital image, secret information is inserted by an embedding algorithm, the image is transmitted to the target system, and there the secret information is extracted for use by malware. The modified image is often difficult to detect by the human eye or by security technology.
McAfee Labs sees network steganography as the newest form of this discipline, as unused fields within the TCP/IP protocol headers are used to hide data. This method is on the rise because attackers can send an unlimited amount of information through the network using this technique.
Vincent Weafer, Vice President of McAfee Labs said: “With people, businesses, and governments increasingly dependent on systems and devices that are protected only by passwords, these credentials are weak or easily stolen, creating an attractive target for cybercriminals. McAfee Labs believes attacks using password-stealing tactics are likely to continue to increase in number until we transition to two-factor authentication for system access.”
Malware developers began experimenting with ways to evade security products in the 1980s, when a piece of malware defended itself by partially encrypting its own code, making the content unreadable by security analysts.