Malware, botnets are top threats vs organizations in 1H 2021, says FortiGuard Labs

The increase in ransomware attacks during the first half of 2021 rose to ten times (10.7 times to be exact) higher than levels set one year ago. Fortiguard Labs, the threat intelligence and research organization at cybersecurity vendor Fortinet, saw a significant increase in the volume and sophistication of attacks targeting individuals, organizations, and increasingly critical infrastructure.

FortiGuard Labs’ “Global Threat Landscape Report” from the first half of 2021 also detailed the top threats lodged against organizations in the same period. These include IPS detections, malware, and botnets. However, the expanding attack surface of hybrid workers and learners, in and out of the traditional network, continues to be a target, according to the report.

According to the researchers, they saw several general trends in attack surfaces that have been rampant in previous years: web servers, content management systems (CMS), and Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

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Fortiguard Lab said that malware attacked two broad distribution mechanisms: Microsoft platforms and web browsers.

“The first of those groups (Microsoft platforms) includes malware in the form of 32-bit Windows executables (W32), malicious Office or Visual Basic (VBA) files, and that use a .NET or Microsoft Intermediate Language (MSIL) packer. Malware families exploiting web browsers often get assigned the HTML or Javascript (JS) prefix.” the report said.

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Attackers still resort to social engineering tactics, javascript-based malvertising, and scareware like Cryxos.


Botnet activity rose from 35% at the beginning of the year to 51% six months later. The researchers said that the surge is “rather unusual for aggregate botnet activity.

“Mirai is the thickest band and is, therefore, the most prevalent,” the report said. “It overtook Gh0st in early 2020 and has reigned supreme ever since. Mirai gained infamy several years ago after fueling massive IoT-based DDoS attacks. Since that time, Mirai has continued adding new cyberweapons to its arsenal to retain its dominance”

In the Philippines, the Philippines’ top risk concerns are existing corporate network (40%) and around integration with existing operational technology (36%), according to a report by industry analyst International Data Corp. based on the study commissioned by Fortinet.

Cybersecurity solutions

“Keeping the business safe even as cybersecurity threats escalate and the organization’s attack surface expands remains the core concern of the CISO. But to ensure that their team makes a positive contribution to the overall business, tech leaders now need to also align their security strategies with other C-suite priorities, like optimizing costs, enabling business growth, and improving business resilience,” said Louie Castañeda, country manager, Fortinet Philippines. “Stymied by the misalignment of C-suite priorities and recruitment concerns, CISOs that work with the right partners will be best able to devise the cybersecurity strategy holistically and execute a successful cybersecurity program.”

Fortinet has a broad portfolio of complementary cybersecurity solutions that enable efficient, self-healing operations, and rapid response to known and unknown threats. Its Fortinet Security Fabric brings holistic end-to-end security to organizations of all sizes to enable broad visibility, seamless integration and automation across the entire digital attack surface and lifecycle, with converged networking and security across edges, clouds, endpoints, and users.