The latest volume of the “Microsoft Security Intelligence Report” examined the current attack landscape for security professionals. It found that the combination of botnets, ransomware and phishing campaigns has created a triple threat that’s hard to defeat and even harder to dislodge.

The report found that botnets are on the rise worldwide as attackers leverage connected devices to create massive networks that can take down web servers, decimate defenses and infect devices. One popular botnet, Gamarue, distributed over 80 different malware families last year, including ransomware, Trojans and backdoors.

According to the Microsoft report, phishing still ranks as the top malware delivery system, making up 53 percent of all Office 365-based threats in the last half of 2017. Since attackers only need one click or download for a successful attack, spamming company emails with wave after wave of supposedly legitimate messages tends to pay off.

Ransomware is also an effective tactic for malware-makers, but it causes numerous problems for victims. According to CyberEdge’s “2018 Cyberthreat Defence Report,” only 19 percent of victims get their stolen files back after paying a ransom. In some cases, it comes down to sheer criminal intention. In others, poorly constructed code makes it impossible to decrypt files without causing damage.

Individually, these threats represent real risks to organisations. Together, they make up an overlapping triple threat: Botnets provide the sheer scope and throughput necessary to distribute ransomware across the globe, while phishing provides the low-friction entry method needed to bypass advanced firewalls and detection solutions.

The Microsoft report noted that humans are “often the weakest link in cybersecurity” and employees remain prone to email-based attacks. The authors suggested that training, education and mock phishing exercises can go a long way toward improving organizational security practices.

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