Hackers haunting Europe now
Source: THE GLOBE AND MAIL
By JACK KAPICA
Date: December 01, 2003
Hackers, it appears, are now forsaking North America in favour of European targets.
In November, said a report from British Internet security specialists at mi2g, Europe overtook North America as the most attacked continent in cyberspace.
Moreover, the successful hacking and distributed denial of service attacks now originate from Brazil, Russia, China and India, the mi2g Intelligence Unit reported in new research. Turkey, Indonesia, Morocco, Pakistan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are also increasingly active.
Successful digital attacks against North America have been dwindling quickly over the past three months.
Germany was the country suffering the most attacks with 2,314, followed by Britain (1,183), the Netherlands (967), Italy (529), Austria (354) and Switzerland (335).
The combined number of attacks — 5,682 — against the European countries far exceeds the overt digital attacks recorded against the United States (3,696) and Canada (209).
Brazil, with 962 attacks, Turkey (549) and China (317) are the only non-Western countries in the top 10.
Broken down another way, mi2g reports that with North America and Europe combined, 80 per cent of all digital attacks in November took place against Western civilization, 9.3 per cent against Latin America^; 4.9 per cent against the Confucian block (including China)^; 4.1 per cent against Islamic countries^; and only 1 per cent against the Russian Orthodox peoples.
The breakdown suggests that Western corporations and governments are vulnerable to digital attacks regardless of where they are located on the globe, mi2g said.
Most of the targets were small.
The mi2g report found that 55 per cent of all digital attacks in November were launched against small entities with a turnover below $7-million (U.S.). Only 3.9 per cent of all attacks were against entities with a turnover between $7-million and $40-million.
Only 1 per cent of all successful digital attacks in November were against larger entities with a turnover in excess of $40-million.
In terms of operating systems, Linux remained the most popular among hackers, according to mi2G, reflecting how popular Linux has become as a platform for Internet-connected computers and servers. Systems running the open-source system accounted for 61.7 per cent of all attacks. Microsoft Windows followed with 23.7 per cent.
But since most government computers run Microsoft systems, Windows servers in governmental operations registered a record high of 84.1 per cent of all successful digital attacks. Government systems running Linux were well below, at 10.1 per cent.
The trend was called a significant shift by mi2g chairman D.K. Matai.
"North America, particularly the United States, has learned from coming under regular digital fire and is now hardened in comparison to Europe," he said in making the announcement.
"Many Europeans do not see themselves as legitimate targets because of their perceived neutrality on the world stage. They are mistaken because evidence shows that criminals and malevolents gravitate toward low-hanging fruit and attack those easy-to-get opportunities ferociously."
Hackers in G8 countries have been relentlessly pursued by law enforcement agencies wielding extra powers provided by new terrorism laws that can equate hacking to terrorist activity have largely gone underground in the past two years, the report said.
The mi2g report also estimated worldwide economic damage from hacker attacks, DDoS attacks, as well as virus, worm and spam proliferation at $166.7-billion to $203.75-billion, with the greatest damage coming from malware and spam.
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