Malicious Software for Endpoint Takeover
Remote Access Trojans (RATs) provide cybercriminals with unlimited access to infected endpoints. Using the victim’s access privileges, they can access and steal sensitive business and personal data including intellectual property, personally identifiable information (PII and patient health information (PHI). While automated cyber-attacks (e.g. Man-in-the-Browser) allow cybercriminals to attack browser-based access to sensitive applications, RATs are used to steal information through manual operation of the endpoint on behalf of the victim. Most Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) attacks take advantage of RAT technology for reconnaissance, bypassing strong authentication, spreading the infection, and accessing sensitive applications to exfiltrate data. RATs are commercially available (e.g. Poison Ivy, Dark Comet) and can be maliciously installed on endpoints using drive-by-download and spear-phishing tactics.
Organization should specifically address RATs in their enterprise defense strategy at the endpoint layer. The risk is especially high when RAT infection occurs, as the detection of RATs in run-time is extremely difficult to do.