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Cyber attacks becoming more political, complex

Publication Date : 03-12-2013


For the last few years, Filipino hackers have been targeting government websites, defacing homepages or sending enormous amounts of illegal traffic to crash web servers.

Earlier in November, Anonymous Philippines called on the public to join their protest march against the “pork barrel” system by defacing at least 38 government websites. On August 26, during the Million People March, at least 30 websites were also hacked. Similar attacks have been made all over the world.

Cyber experts, during the Globe Business Enterprise Innovation Forum in late October, said online attacks in recent years have become more political in nature, in addition to their growing frequency and complexity.

“Two years ago, the motivation was financial. Today, it’s political or ideological,” Jeff Buhl of Arbor Networks said during the forum’s special track on security.

He presented an infographic, showing that at least 33 per cent of today’s cyber attacks were because of political or ideological reasons, followed closely by online gaming at 31 per cent and vandalism at 27 per cent.

He said many of these incidents involve Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks which involve “compromised hosts or bots sending illegal traffic to networks to stop or prevent legitimate traffic.”

“(It’s) like Manila at rush hour,” he said of DDoS attacks that are able to stop online services through the traffic saturation.

Buhl said activists and political groups all over the world have been attacking websites and systems of banks and other institutions as a form of protest.

He said that while there is a 60 per cent increase in DDoS attacks over last year, only half of the sources could be monitored with the rest still anonymous.

“There’s a reason why the largest attacking group in the world is called Anonymous,” he said.

Buhl also shared the following information with the audience:

Source of cyber attacks (global):

China 12.5%
US 12%
Netherlands 4.5%

Destination of cyber attacks (global):
US 22.7%
China 21.9%
France 5.3%

Source of cyber attacks in the Philippines:
China 25.3%
US 6.4%
Spain 5.2%

He warned that DDos attacks in the Philippines have also been rising.
Buhl and other speakers, including Huawei Australia Chief Technology Officer Peter Rossi and COMSEC Senior Vice President Ami Braun, said that with attacks becoming more organised and complex, traditional tools and methods such as anti-virus applications and firewalls were not enough.

They said companies and governments all over the world should be more proactive by implementing advanced triggering systems to spot attacks in its early stages, as well as coordinating with each other.


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