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Social Networks Number One Web Attack Target

Web Hacking Incidents Database (WHID) report finds that one-fifth of Web incidents were aimed at Web 2.0 sites in the first half of 2009

Most real-world Web attacks in the first half of the year hit Web 2.0 and social networking sites, according to a new report that logs actual attacks on Web applications.

The Web Hacking Incidents Database (WHID) -- which tracks Web application-security related incidents that have been reported publicly -- in the first half of the year recorded a big jump in attacks against Web 2.0-type social networking sites, which made up 19 percent of all incidents. Next in line were media (16 percent) and retail, technology, Internet, and government/politics industry sites, which each experienced 12 percent of attacks. The entertainment industry edged finance, with 7 percent of the attacks versus 5 percent.

"The dramatic rise in attacks against social networking sites this year can primarily be attributed to attacks on popular new technologies like Twitter, where cross-site scripting and CSRF worms were unleashed," said Ryan Barnett, director of application security research for Breach Security, which is one of the authors of the WHID report.

Random attacks are not included in the WHID, either, so it's more of a look at targeted attacks that have been reported publicly. About 44 Web attack incidents made the database in the first half of the year. Web attacks jumped 30 percent over the same period of 2008.

SQL injection is still king of the attack vectors, accounting for 19 percent of attacks, followed by authentication abuse (11 percent), content spoofing (10 percent), DDoS/brute force (10 percent), configuration/admin error (8 percent), cross-site scripting (8 percent), cross-site request forgery (5 percent), DNS highjacking (5 percent), and worms (3 percent).

Defacement and planting malware is the most popular reason for a Web hack, with 28 percent of the incidents, and leakage of sensitive information accounts for 26 percent " up from 19 percent the same time last year. Spreading disinformation occurred in 19 percent of the attacks, reflecting the hacking of celebrities online. Phishing accounted for only two percent of the attacks.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message. Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. 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 ... View Full Bio

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