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7/7/2011
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Five Steps To Help Repel The 'Lulz'

Targeted attacks are a reality today, especially with the likes of hacktivist groups such as Anonymous

Face it: There's no way to stop a determined hacker, even if you're a security firm. This year's wave of attacks by Anonymous, spin-off LulzSec, and other indie hackers in the "AntiSec" movement of exposing security flaws and dumping exposed data, email spools, and other sensitive information have made that point loud and clear.

"The HBGary hack was the turning point for me," says Paul Henry, forensics and security analyst for Lumension. "That definitely got my attention: It showed me that anybody connected to the Net is a potential victim."

Karim Hijazi, whose security start-up was targeted by the now-defunct LulzSec in late May, says there's really no way to avoid being targeted by these types of attacks. "Considering the rampant nature of the attacks, unfortunately I am not sure anyone is technically off-limits for this group. I mean, you have the CIA public facing website DDoS'ed one day, and a gaming company the next -- not exactly patterned," says Hijazi, who is CEO and president of Unveillance, which uses sinkhole servers to pose as botnet servers that capture communique from orphaned bots.

"So that being said, it could be quite difficult to remove one's self from their radar. We certainly did quite the opposite, and I would urge others not to taunt them, per se," he says, referring to his firm's refusal to hand over botnet information, control, and money to the attackers. LulzSec retaliated by posting his email spools and other information online.

Members of LulzSec are also thought to have been behind the hack of HBGary Federal and, subsequently, HBGary proper's email spools, while the hackers were part of the larger Anonymous umbrella. That attack came in response to former HBGary Federal CEO Aaron Barr's research on unmasking members of the group.

Recently, leaked chat logs of conversations among LulzSec members have provided some insight into the types of attacks the group has used. Imperva, for example, analyzed the logs and concluded that the three main attack vectors used were remote-file include, SQL injection, and cross-site scripting (XSS) -- all common Web vulnerabilities. Google-hacking is another tool used by LulzSec members, according to researchers at Stach and Liu.

So what can you do to help defend against determined and inspired hackers like Anonymous and its followers? Here are some tips -- in no particular order-- from Unveillance's Hijazi and other security experts. Kelly Jackson Higgins is Senior Editor at DarkReading.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise Magazine, ... View Full Bio

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