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Malicious computer attacks on the rise
Friday, September 27 2002
by Ciaran Buckley

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The number of malicious hacking attempts made this month is higher than the numbers recorded in any previous month, according to security specialists Mi2g.

Mi2g has recorded 9,011 digital attacks to date in September, following previous record highs of 4,904 and 5,830 recorded in July and August of this year respectively.

This pattern stands in stark contrast to last year, when the July and August figures of 3,499 and 2,820 were followed by a precipitous drop in digital attacks in September. The fall in malicious hacking activity to 816 attacks is attributed to the effects of the attack on the World Trade Centre.

Mi2g attribute the increase in attacks to rising antagonism against the US in response to its policy on Iraq and support for Israel. US government on-line computers belonging to the House of Representatives, Department of Agriculture, Department of Education, National Park Service, NASA and the US Geological Survey were attacked in September, Mi2G said.

The report named malicious hacker groups such as S4t4n1c_S0uls, USG, WFD, EgyptianHackers, Arab VieruZ, MHA, The Bugz and FBH, as responsible for many of the anti-US, anti-Israeli and anti-Indian attacks.

US registered domains suffered the most, with 4,157 attacks, well ahead of the number two nation on the list Brazil who suffered only 835 attacks. The UK, Germany and India were next most popular victims, with less than 400 attacks each.

Mi2g also reported that systems running Microsoft Windows suffered more attacks than all other operating systems combined, with only 1,740 attacks on Linux, 933 attacks on BSD and 229 attacks on Solaris.

"Many hacker groups, in anonymous interviews with Mi2g, have said that they prefer attacking Linux systems and very rarely target anything running Windows, simply because to do so is far too easy," claimed Jan Andresen of Mi2g. "Those hacking for intellectual gain or fun will generally be attracted to the greater challenge associated with hacking Linux systems."

"Hacker groups with political motivations target country or content specific on-line systems regardless of operating systems and this is where Windows comes under maximum fire."

DK Matai, chairman and chief executive officer of Mi2g, noted in the report that an increasing number of vulnerabilities are being found in generic operating systems, server software, applications and libraries deployed on mission critical systems. These flaws are often time consuming to patch and as a result, fixes on these holes are often delayed. "Applying patches was traditionally relegated to the weekend. Invariably some mission critical machines don't get patched in time despite the best will to do so," said Matai. "Those are perfect doorways for hackers and they are being exploited ruthlessly."

Mi2g projected that there would be over 45,000 digital attacks globally in 2002, up from 31,322 in 2001, 7,821 in 2000; 4,197 in 1999 and only 269 in 1998.

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