Cyber Attacks Becoming More Sophisticated

Cyber Attacks Becoming More Sophisticated

March 8, 2010

••• Cyber attacks cost businesses an estimated $226 billion annually, according to a Congressional Research Service study.

The attacks are also becoming an increasing threat to national security. FBI Director Robert Mueller said on March 5 that hackers are not only stealing government data, but are also corrupting data.

“If hackers made subtle, undetected changes to your code, they could have a permanent window into everything you do,” Mueller said, IDG News Service reported.

“Some in industry have likened this to death by 1,000 cuts. We are bleeding data, intellectual property, information, source code, bit by bit, and in some cases terabyte by terabyte,” Mueller said.

Interrupting the online information flows is becoming the new way hackers are stealing from the world’s pockets, according to a white paper from Bloor Research. Everything including voice, data, and videos sent online are susceptible to intrusion by hackers looking for personal information or vital data.

Worms, viruses, and phishing attacks on computer systems are just a part of the methods being used. Due to more advanced virus protection programs being used on computers, the attacks are becoming “increasingly sophisticated in order to challenge the defenses,” says the report.

The paper cites figures from Webroot that 85 percent of new malware infections are from Web-based exploitation. The key difference between how attacks used to be carried out, and how they are done now, is that they are more targeted. Many hackers are not just blindly sending malware into the Web.

The attacks are “becoming increasingly targeted in order to evade defenses that are primarily based on preventing known vulnerabilities from being exploited,” according to the paper.

Some hackers are turning to more mainstream means. “Criminal enterprises have created entire Internet service providers dedicated to sending spam, phishing messages, or spreading viruses,” said Craig Shue of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNL) Computational Sciences and Engineering Division.

“These other Internet service providers have customers whose machines become infected and can be used to launch attacks or steal the customer’s data,” Shue said.

Although some hackers have been caught in this trick, many others have been able to avoid detection, according to ORNL.

Related: Urgent warnings over China cyber attacks GO
Related: Cyberwar declared as China hunts for the West’s intelligence secrets GO



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