Computer Network Security: Cyber-Attacks on the Rise

Posted by Mark Teter, Chief Technology Officer
April 3, 2013

With several disruptive cyber-attacks this past week, Computer network security professionals have been busy, and they’re not likely to get a break anytime soon. In fact, US intelligence officials announced last month that cyber-attacks and cyber espionage have surpassed terrorism as the top security threat facing the United States.

First, there was the DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack on Spamhaus, a London and Geneva-based non-profit group that publishes blacklists used by ISPs to weed out spam in email traffic. According to Cloudflare—a company working with Spamhaus to mitigate the attack—almost 80 percent of all daily spam messages are filtered via Spamhaus, making it a key player in the spam detection business.

Evaluated at 300 Gbps, the DDoS attack on Spamhaus is one of the largest DDoS operations to date, according to Kaspersky Lab. Given its size and the number of computers involved, it was not only hard to detect, but resulted in an Internet slowdown experienced by many. In a recent Computerworld article, Kaspersky reported:

While the worst of this latest high-level DDoS attack may now be over, […] the world could expect to see more of the same. Cyber criminals can now attack much more frequently and on a much wider scale.

 

In general, attacks of this type are growing in terms of quantity as well as scale. Among the reasons for this growth is the development of the Internet itself (network capacity and computing power) and past failures in investigating and prosecuting individuals behind past attacks.

 

There are two major motives behind launching such high-level attacks. Firstly, cyber criminals conduct DDoS attacks to disrupt organizations in order to extort money from them. Secondly, hackers use DDoS attacks as a weapon to disrupt organizations out of ideological or political interests.

Second, hackers from Iran took down the American Express website last week, the latest in a growing number of financial institutions recently targeted by hackers intent on espionage and destruction. Last month, the JP Morgan website was also temporarily incapacitated by a sustained denial of service attack.

With cyber-attacks becoming more prevalent and malware and DDoS attacks becoming more sophisticated, it’s time to review your company’s computer network security procedures. Review our blog – Computer Network Security Resources – and take the steps necessary to protect your network and data. While these types of attacks are hard to prevent, you can help protect yourself with smart data backup. The time is right too—March 31st was World Backup Day!

About Mark Teter Before he retired from ASG in 2013, Mark Teter was Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and the author of 'Paradigm Shift: Seven Keys of Highly successful Linux and Open Source Adoptions.' As CTO, Mark regularly advised IT organizations, vendors, and government agencies, and he frequently conducted seminars and training programs.

Filed Under: Network Security

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