Fortinet warns of ‘swarming’ attacks of ‘hivenets’ in 2018​

Cybersecurity firm Fortinet has issued a warning about what it dubbed “swarm” attacks from cybercriminals in 2018 using an armada of botnets.

The warning came as the American company unveiled in the Philippines its predictions about the looming threat landscape.

Through its global research team FortiGuard Labs, the company has been issuing forecasts on what consumers and organizations might face and should prepare for to thwart ever-increasing cyberattacks for profit.

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It said this year’s “trends reveal the methods and strategies that cybercriminals will employ and demonstrate the potential impact of cyberattacks to the global economy.”

Fortinet noted that digital transformation is being leveraged both for good and bad.

The cybersecurity firm added that its predictions cover the years 2018 and 2019.

It pointed out that cyber bad guys are taking advantage of opportunities (without a question, for mischief), presented by the “proliferation of online devices accessing personal and financial information, and the growing connection of everything — from armies of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and critical infrastructure in cars, homes, and offices, to the rise of smart cities.”

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The company warned of the cunning of the cybercriminal marketplace at adopting the latest advances in areas such as artificial intelligence (AI) to devise more effective attacks.

Fortinet is anticipating these trends to accelerate this year and enable the destructive headwinds in its predictions, such as:

       ● Rise of self-learning Hivenets and Swarmbots;

       ● Ransom of commercial services is big business;

       ● Next-generation morphic malware;

       ● Critical infrastructure to the forefront; and,

       ● Dark Web and cybercrime economy has new services offering automation.

Nap S. Castillo, regional pre-sales consultant, Fortinet Philippines, presented recently the company’s predictions, pointing to “hivenets” and “swarmbots” that cyber bad guys can launch for massive attacks on organizations.

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In his presentation, he said cybercriminals can build on sophisticated attacks like Hajime and Devil’s Ivy or Reaper from which to launch their swarming offensive.

Castillo said Fortinet predicts that “cybercriminals will replace botnets with intelligent clusters of compromised devices called hivenets to create more effective attack vectors.”

With hivenets, the attackers “will leverage self-learning to effectively target vulnerable systems at an unprecedented scale.”

Compromised devices captured in hivenets will be able to talk to each other and take action based on shared local intelligence.

“In addition, zombies will become smart, acting on commands without the botnet herder instructing them to do so. As a result, hivenets will be able to grow exponentially as swarms, widening their ability to simultaneously attack multiple victims and significantly impede mitigation and response,” Fortinet said.

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Meanwhile, Castillo said that of the Top 5 malware in 2017, those with “malicious behavior” have the most prevalence because of their ability to morph into something else.

On the other hand, he said all the Top 5 malware for mobile phones all targeted Android OS/ecosystem because “it is open source and lax.”

He added that the Top 5 ransomware are Torrent Locker (43 percent), CryptoWall (43 percent), Locky (4 percent), Cerber (4 percent), and CryptXXX (4 percent).

Castillo said the trend about ransomware is that it is actually increasing, while botnets can be bought from the Dark Net or Dark Web where shadowy figures of hackers, even for hire, and other cyber bad guys operate with seeming impunity.

Well, at least before the law catches up with them.

EDD K. Usman: 1st winner of “Best Science Feature Story” of 2018 UP Science Journalism Award on February 17; winner in June 2014 for Print Media in Kabalikat Award Media Category of PCIEERD-DOST Science Journalism Award; alumnus of United States’ East-West Center 2008 Senior Journalists Seminar; participant of South Korea 2000 Executive Seminar for Information Technology Journalists; senior journalist at Manila Bulletin until April 15, 2016; stringer/contributor at present for Rappler,, Claire Delfin Online Magazine, Malaya Business Insight, Agriculture Magazine (of Manila Bulletin), and U.S.-based Philippine News. Traveled on assignment abroad more than 30 times. Reports about SciTech, IT, ICT, Current Events, and many other subjects under Heaven.


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