WatchGuard uncovers top cyber threat trends of Q4 2020

Protect yourself from online attacks that threaten your identity, your files, your system, and your financial well-being.

Fireless malware attacks and cryptominers are coming back in force, while ransomware attacks are on the decline.

This is according to WatchGuard Technologies’ new Internet Security Report for Q4 2020.

Among its most notable findings, the report reveals that fileless malware and cryptominer attack rates grew by nearly 900% and 25% respectively, while unique ransomware payloads plummeted by 48% in 2020 compared to 2019.

Additionally, the WatchGuard Threat Lab found that Q4 2020 brought a 41% increase in encrypted malware detections over the previous quarter and network attacks hit their highest levels since 2018.

WatchGuard’s report looked more closely at various trends and attack types, including fileless malware, cryptominers, ransomware, encrypted and evasive malware, botnet malware, supply chain attacks, trojan dupes and network attacks. 

Fileless malware

Fileless malware rates in 2020 increased by 888% over 2019.

According to WatchGuard, these threats can be particularly dangerous due to their ability to evade detection by traditional endpoint protection clients and because they can succeed without victims doing anything beyond clicking a malicious link or unknowingly visiting a compromised website.

Toolkits such as PowerSploit and CobaltStrike allow threat actors to easily inject malicious code into other running processes and remain operational even if the victims defences identify and remove the original script.

Deploying endpoint detection and response solutions alongside preventative anti-malware can help identify these threats.


After virtually all cryptocurrency prices crashed in early 2018, cryptominer infections became far less prevalent and reached a low of 633 unique variant detections in 2019.

According to the researchers, attackers continued adding cryptominer modules to existing botnet infections and extract passive income from victims while abusing their networks for other cyber crime.

As a result, and with prices trending upward again in Q4 2020, the volume of cryptominer malware detections climbed more than 25% over 2019 levels to reach 850 unique variants last year.


For the second year in a row, the number of unique…