Canadian Manufacturing

Know what risks lurk online

Computer attacks against industry on the rise



LAS VEGAS—Online predators are attacking companies at an unparalleled rate and the tools they’re using are getting more sophisticated, according to a recent update from IBM.

IBM’s X-Force 2010 Mid-Year Trend and Risk Report found there were 150 million intrusion attempts on a daily basis last year.

The report documented more than 8,000 new computer security problems.

That’s a 27 per cent increase since 2009, says Jamie Licitra, product manager with X-Force, IBM Security Solutions, which has been monitoring computer-related threats since the early ‘90s.

Licitra highlighted some of their findings at a recent IBM conference in Las Vegas.

He said that malware has been hitting more and more programs. Apple was the most frequent target this year, followed by Microsoft, Adobe and Cisco.

There are several ways that companies become infected, but the most common are through emails and internet browsing.

Licitra says the number of malicious links on the web are increasing.

“Sometimes even valid sites are hosting these unbeknownst to them,” Licitra says.

Attackers install what’s called “a bot” on a site, then sell the infected internet protocol address on the black market.

“Usually, interested buyers are people who want to get inside the network of a company,”

The report also found an increase in the number of attacks on document readers such as Adobe.

“PDF exploitation is hot these days,” Licitra says, adding most attackers use what looks like a genuine report or other business-related document.

He says attackers are also using sites such as facebook to get sensitive information. What appears to be a message from a friend turns out to be a phishing scam.

Rogue Antivirus is another rising trend that companies should be aware of, he says.

“This is a very slick virus makes itself look like the real anti-virus product asking you to install it,” he cautions.

While companies such as IBM are developing signatures to detect malware and protect programs, Licitra admits attackers are also hard at work.

He says the web is now filled with a range of malicious services, from virus kits that even come with warranties and contractors who will do all the work for you.

“There’s a whole underground economy built around it.”

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