Akamai predicts more cheap hacking toolkits, political attacks

State of the Internet report for the third quarter of 2014 dominated by the Shellshock vulnerabilities and the World Cup

We'll be seeing more severe vulnerabilities like Shellshock and Heartbleed in 2015, predicts Akamai Technologies Inc., the leading content delivery network. The use of cheap online hacking toolkits will continue to proliferate, as will politically motivated attacks such as those during last year's World Cup.

Akamai just released its State of the Internet report for the third quarter of 2014, which was dominated by the Shellshock vulnerabilities and the World Cup.

Shellshock and Heartbleed are inspiring more researchers to look at old technologies for potential security flaws, said Bill Brenner, a senior program manager at Akamai.

"With all the focus on SSL security holes and the transition to TLS, expect researchers to start going over TLS with a microscope looking for flaws," he said.

The third quarter also saw an increase in the use of attack tools like Blackshades rat and the Spike DDoS toolkit, he said, as well as DDoS attacks targeting vulnerabilities in Linux systems.

Attack traffic shifts to Telnet

Historically, Port 445 has been the port most targeted by hackers. For example, this was the port targeted by the Conficker Worm.

But Port 445 has dropped down from first place in the last few quarters, said David Belson, Akamai's senior director of industry and data intelligence, and author of the report.

One reason is that the old systems with the Port 445 vulnerability are finally being taken off line, he said.

So hackers are now targeting Port 23, which is typically used for Telnet traffic.

But this doesn't mean that companies are still using Telnet, Belson said.

"Telnet is unencrypted, so you don't want to managing systems of unencrypted traffic," he said. "Ideally, you're managing SSH."

Hackers are using brute force attacks to attempt to find what few vulnerable Telnet ports there might still be out there.

As the leading content delivery network, Akamai is already uniquely placed to track attack activity around the globe, but it also builds on that with a series of honey pots strategically deployed to attract malicious traffic.

It is those honey pots that have been attracting the Port 23 attacks, he said.

DDOS attacks shifting regions, industries

The general volume of distributed denial of service attacks has stayed about the same, Belson said.

But the attacks have shifted in geographic and industry focus in the third quarter of last year.

The number of attacks in the Americas fell 8 percent compared to the previous quarter, and was 14 per cent lower than at the same time in 2013. But in Asia Pacific, the number of attacks rose by 25 per cent compared to the previous quarter, which was an 18 percent increase over this time in 2013.

Similarly, the industry focus of attacks shifted as well, with an increase in the number of attacks against enterprises and the media and entertainment sector on the rise, while other sectors -- commerce, the public sector, and high tech -- seeing a decline.

Specifically, commerce saw a 15 per cent drop, high tech saw a 19 per cent decrease in attacks, and the public sector had the largest decline, with a 27 per cent decrease in the total number of DDOS attacks.

Akamai helps customers with DDOS attacks by absorbing spikes in traffic with its large platform, and also by blacklisting particular IP addresses, monitoring for specific attack vectors, and deploying Web application firewalls at the end of their network to block the attacks where they start.

Last year, Akamai expanded its focus to include infrastucture-level DDOS mitigation.

"Now we can now expand that protection to the full data center infrastructure," Belson said.

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