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Microsoft A Popular File For Distribution Of Malicious Activity

Microsoft Excel has been signalled out as one of the most popular file types used to distribute malicious activity according to latest security figures from Mimecast in its Threat Intelligence Report: Black Hat Edition 2019.

The figures show more than 40% of threats detected were using files associated with it. File types associated with Microsoft Word were seen in nearly 15% of threats.

The report leverages the processing of some 160 billion emails during the period of April 2019 to June 2019. During this time, Mimecast rejected more than 67 billion of those emails and based its subsequent analysis on rejections classified as spam, opportunistic and targeted attacks, and impersonation detections.

Mimecast has found that the bad threat actors are modifying old exploits as well as changing their attack techniques in which they link to documents or landing pages on well-known cloud platforms using URLs that otherwise would appear to be legitimate.

Mimecast has also found a significant increase in impersonation attacks dovetailing basic social engineering techniques to target individuals for fast and easy financial gain.

“We have seen a marked increase in malware links,” says Josh Douglas, Mimecast’s vice-president of threat intelligence. “We also found that nearly 30% of the impersonation attacks were targeted at the management and consulting sectors and biotechnology.”

Mimecast found, threat actors are adapting how they engage their targeted victims, initiating through email first, then shifting to SMS, a less secure communications channel.

An increasing amount of more complex targeted attacks using obfuscation, layering and bundling of malware were often used.

“The cyberthreat landscape will continue to evolve as threat actors continue to look for new ways to bypass security channels to breach their targets,” said Douglas.

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