Attackers finding new ways to automate the hunt for vulnerabilities, Imperva researchers say.
Google, hackers have discovered, is very good at finding Web-facing security vulnerabilities. But searching for one vulnerability at a time can be slow--so it's time to automate.
Attackers are now using botnets and Google "dorks"--clearly-defined search parameters--to speed the process of finding exploitable flaws on the Internet, according to a new report issued by researchers at Imperva Tuesday.
"What the hackers are doing is building an army of zombies to perform automated cyber reconnaissance," said Noa Bar Yosef, senior security strategist at Imperva. "This makes the Google search much more efficient, and it also makes it harder to detect, because each zombie only issues two to four queries per minute, which is not enough to raise a red flag."
"Search engines can be directed to return results that are focused on specific potential targets by using a specific set of query operators," the Imperva report explains. "For example, the attacker may focus on all potential victims in a specified geographic location. In this case, the query includes a "location" search operator.
"In another scenario, an attacker may want to target all vulnerabilities in a specific website, and achieves this by issuing different queries containing the 'site' search operator," the report continues. "These particular search queries are commonly referred to as 'Google dorks,' or simply 'dorks.'
"Automating the query and result parsing enables the attacker to issue a large number of queries, examine all the returned results, and get a filtered list of potentially exploitable sites in a very short time and with minimal effort," the report states.
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