Old malware makes a comeback as new players enter cyber warfare

Old malware makes a comeback as new players enter cyber warfare
Old malware is making a comeback and battering down cyber security systemsUnsplash

  • There has been a surge in online malware attacks as new players enter cyber warfare, including cybercriminals from India.
  • Fairly new to the landscape, these cybercriminals modify existing malware to launch their attacks.
  • Patchwork is one such Indian hacker that has been active.
Cyberattacks are escalating, and the coronavirus pandemic may have played a role, but is not the only reason behind this surge. Remote working may have created an abundance of targets, but new players — including cybercriminals from India — entering the field is making it increasingly crowded.

Former British Intelligence researcher and founder of cybersecurity firm Cyfirma, Kumar Ritesh told Business Insider that not only has this led to a surge in hacking attempts, but old malware is also making a comeback like never before.

These ‘copy-paste’ hackers take the old source code of a virus or malware and repurpose it to launch an attack. “New nations who are joining the game quite late have suddenly skewed the whole cyber warfare landscape in a different proportion,” said Ritesh.
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Old malware makes a comeback
More sophisticated and experienced cybercriminals, like the Russians, North Koreans, or the Chinese, have the tools required to create their new malware. New players, on the other hand, don’t have a lot of capabilities, according to Ritesh.

Instead of creating new code, they modify what already exists. “A three-year-old malware which was nowhere in the game has come back all over again in the last four to five months,” said Ritesh. In the last four months, more than 130 new variants of the malware have been spotted by DeCYFIR, Cyfirma’s threat prediction software.

Dharma ransomware, which first reared its head in 2016, was spotted attacking small and medium businesses. Many variations of the source code have been dumped online or can be found for sale, according to cybersecurity firms Sophos.

Conficker, a 12-year-old malware, also made a comeback. Exploiting weaknesses in Internet of Things (IoT) devices, the malware has inflicted most of its damage in the healthcare sector.

Joker, another old Malware found making the rounds on the Google Play Store by cybersecurity firm Check Point.

Introducing Patchwork
There is no better example of ‘copy-paste’ hackers than one of the more prominent Indian hacker groups, Patchwork. Back in 2016, the Patchwork group of hackers ripped code and tolls from Github and around the Dark New to build their kit. They were able to crack through 2500 corporates and government agencies.

In 2018, they resurfaced when cybersecurity firm Volexity caught them trying to break into US think tanks. Palo Alto Networks also saw an uptake in their activity against South Asian countries, including Pakistan.

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