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Editor’s brief: According to the research arm of cybersecurity vendor Check Point Software, the takedown of the Emotet botnet by international police teams in January 2021, threat actors have gone back to using Trickbot trojan as a tool for attempting to infiltrate and exploit networks and devices. The vendor’s release is below.

February 2021’s Most Wanted Malware: Trickbot Takes Over Following Emotet Shutdown

Check Point Research reports that following the international police operation that took control of Emotet in January, cybercriminals have turned to Trickbot to maintain their malicious activities

SINGAPORE, @mcgallen #microwireinfo, March 12, 2021 – Check Point Research, the Threat Intelligence arm of Check Point® Software Technologies Ltd. (NASDAQ: CHKP), a leading provider of cyber security solutions globally, has published its latest Global Threat Index for February 2021. Researchers reported that the Trickbot trojan has topped the Index for the first time, rising from third position in January.

Following the takedown of the Emotet botnet in January, Check Point researchers report that cyber-criminal groups are now using new techniques with malwares such as Trickbot to continue their malicious activities. During February, Trickbot was being distributed via a malicious spam campaign designed to trick users in the legal and insurance sectors into downloading a .zip archive with a malicious JavaScript file to their PCs. Once this file is opened, it attempts to download a further malicious payload from a remote server.

Trickbot was the 4th most prevalent malware globally during 2020, impacting 8% of organisations. It played a key role in one of the highest-profile and expensive cyberattacks of 2020, which hit Universal Health Services (UHS), a leading healthcare provider in the U.S. UHS was hit by Ryuk ransomware, and stated the attack cost it US$67 million in lost revenues and costs. Trickbot was used by the attackers to detect and harvest data from UHS’ systems, and then to deliver the ransomware payload.

“Criminals will continue using the existing threats and tools they have available, and Trickbot is popular because of its versatility and its track record of success in previous attacks,” said Maya Horowitz, Director, Threat Intelligence & Research, Products at Check Point. “As we suspected, even when a major threat is removed, there are many others that continue to pose a high risk on networks worldwide, so organisations must ensure they have robust security systems in place to prevent their networks being compromised and minimise risks. Comprehensive training for all employees is crucial, so they are equipped with the skills needed to identify the types of malicious emails which spread Trickbot and other malware.”

Check Point Research also warns that “Web Server Exposed Git Repository Information Disclosure” is the most common exploited vulnerability, impacting 48% of organisations globally, followed by “HTTP Headers Remote Code Execution (CVE-2020-13756)” which impact 46% of organisations worldwide. “MVPower DVR Remote Code Execution” is third place in the top exploited vulnerabilities list, with a global impact of 45%.

Top malware families

*The arrows relate to the change in rank compared to the previous month

This Month, Trickbot ranks as most popular malware impacting 3% of organisations globally, closely followed by XMRig and Qbot which also impacted 3% of organisations worldwide respectively.

  1. ↑Trickbot – Trickbot is a dominant botnet and banking Trojan constantly being updated with new capabilities, features and distribution vectors. This enables Trickbot to be a flexible and customisable malware that can be distributed as part of multi-purpose campaigns.
  2. ↑ XMRig – XMRig is an open-source CPU mining software used for the mining process of the Monero cryptocurrency, and first seen in-the-wild on May 2017.
  3. ↑ Qbot – Qbot is a banking Trojan that first appeared in 2008, designed to steal users banking credentials and keystrokes. Often distributed via spam email, Qbot employs several anti-VM, anti-debugging, and anti-sandbox techniques, to hinder analysis and evade detection.

Top exploited vulnerabilities

This month “Web Server Exposed Git Repository Information Disclosure” is the most common exploited vulnerability, impacting 48% of organisations globally, followed by “HTTP Headers Remote Code Execution (CVE-2020-13756)” which impact 46% of organisations worldwide. “MVPower DVR Remote Code Execution” is third place in the top exploited vulnerabilities list, with a global impact of 45%.

  1. Web Server Exposed Git Repository Information Disclosure – Information disclosure vulnerability that has been reported in Git Repository. Successful exploitation of this vulnerability could allow an unintentional disclosure of account information.
  2. ↔ HTTP Headers Remote Code Execution (CVE-2020-13756) – HTTP headers let the client and the server pass additional information with an HTTP request. A remote attacker may use a vulnerable HTTP Header to run arbitrary code on the victim machine.
  3. MVPower DVR Remote Code Execution – a remote code execution vulnerability which exists in MVPower DVR devices. A remote attacker can exploit this weakness to execute arbitrary code in the affected router via a crafted request.

Top mobile malware

This month, Hiddad holds 1st place in the most prevalent mobile malware, followed by xHelper and FurBall.

  1. Hiddad – Hiddad is an Android malware which repackages legitimate apps and then releases them to a third-party store. Its main function is to display ads, but it can also gain access to key security details built into the OS.
  2. xHelper – A malicious application seen in the wild since March 2019, used for downloading other malicious apps and display advertisement. The application is capable of hiding itself from the user and reinstall itself in case it was uninstalled.
  3. FurBall – FurBall is an Android MRAT (Mobile Remote Access Trojan) which is deployed by APT-C-50, an Iranian APT group connected to the Iranian government. This malware was used in multiple campaigns dating back to 2017, and is still active today. FurBall’s capabilities includes stealing SMS messages, call logs, surround recording, call recording, media files collection, location tracking, and more.

Check Point’s Global Threat Impact Index and its ThreatCloud Map is powered by Check Point’s ThreatCloud intelligence, the largest collaborative network to fight cybercrime which delivers threat data and attack trends from a global network of threat sensors. The ThreatCloud database inspects over 3 billion websites and 600 million files daily, and identifies more than 250 million malware activities every day.

The complete list of the top 10 malware families in February can be found on the Check Point Blog.

About Check Point Research 

Check Point Research provides leading cyber threat intelligence to Check Point Software customers and the greater intelligence community. The research team collects and analyses global cyber-attack data stored on ThreatCloud to keep hackers at bay, while ensuring all Check Point products are updated with the latest protections. The research team consists of over 100 analysts and researchers cooperating with other security vendors, law enforcement and various CERTs.

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About Check Point Software Technologies Ltd.

Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. ( is a leading provider of cyber security solutions to governments and corporate enterprises globally. Check Point’s solutions protect customers from 5th generation cyber-attacks with an industry leading catch rate of malware, ransomware and advanced targeted threats. Check Point offers a multilevel security architecture, “Infinity Total Protection with Gen V advanced threat prevention”, this combined product architecture defends an enterprise’s cloud, network and mobile devices. Check Point provides the most comprehensive and intuitive one point of control security management system. Check Point protects over 100,000 organisations of all sizes.