Web defacements and server hacks on the rise

Brief: Hackers in 2004 attacked more Web sites and servers than ever before, a security research group says
Written by Dan Ilett, Contributor

Hackers carried out almost 500,000 more attacks on Web sites and servers last year than in 2003, according to independent research.

A study carried out by Zone-H, a Web site where hackers report their activity, found that global Web server attacks and Web site defacements rose by over 400,000 (36 percent) compared to 2003 figures.

"Defacement is just one option for an attacker," said Roberto Preatoni, the founder of Zone-H. "In most circumstances the techniques used by defacers are the same used by serious criminals to cause damage. The data on cybercrime provides information on the evolution of trends and [this] allows system administrators to close the security holes that are used."

The report said that an average of roughly 2,500 Web servers (out of approximately 45 million) were hacked every day last year, and that 70,357 single Web defacements occurred over the year. US government servers were hit 186 times using individually tailored "special attacks", while US military servers received 49 such attacks.

Preatoni said that Web server attacks are likely to rocket as the adoption of 3G and VoIP services becomes increasingly common.

"Once GSM telephone platforms are replaced by VoIP and 3G phones, which work in the same way as Internet servers, the number of Web servers will increase to 1.5bn," he said. "Each of these phones will potentially be subject to the same vulnerabilities as traditional Web servers and personal computers. [This] could even turn the phones into remote-controlled snooping devices, opening the way to massive industrial espionage incidents."

Zone-H has archived 900,000 digital attacks in five years.

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