Net hack activity worsening

Researchers found that a 'dummy' server was attacked nearly 500 times on the day of its installation

The level of hacking activity on the Internet has been revealed after one company set up an anonymous "dummy test" server -- and found it was maliciously attacked 467 times within 24 hours of being installed.

The server, which contained no data and had no public profile, was attacked every single day over the next three weeks.

PSINet Europe ran the test on an unprotected server at its Internet Data Centre in Amsterdam, and registered a total of 626 malicious attacks over the three-week period.

A significant number of attacks originated from broadband or cable ISPs. Attackers can target potential targets more quickly and more cheaply as bandwidth increases. PSINet's report into the experiment says that: "High bandwidth links do not only provide end users with faster download times -- they also allow hackers to attack a wider target audience with a wider array of tools."

PSINet also found that:

• The bulk of the attacks originated from the US and Western Europe and not in the most commonly expected areas of the former Eastern Bloc countries.

• Within Europe, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the UK were the most popular locations, while the countries most associated with attackers -- Russia, Bulgaria and Romania -- did not even feature.

Stephen Scott, UK managing director of PSINet Europe, said: "Our dummy server should by rights have sat in splendid isolation in the data centre -- with no connections, scans or attacks expected. Instead we found that nearly 500 intrusions were attempted on day one of its installation."

The findings of the PSINet Europe test are backed up by figures from the Gartner Group, which reported that 90 percent of security breaches occur as a result of networks being incorrectly configured and managed.

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