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IBM Cites Three Consecutive Summers Of SQL Injection Attacks

New X-Force 2010 Trend and Risk Report also calculates nearly 30 percent more new vulnerabilities last year after a decline in 2009
There are seasonal allergies and, apparently, there are also seasonal SQL injection attacks: A new IBM report found that a global SQL injection attack possibly from the same group of attackers has hit three years in a row during the months of May through August.

Tom Cross, manager of IBM X-Force Research, which yesterday published its 2010 Trend and Risk Report, says those summertime SQL injection attacks contained similar patterns and thus could be coming from the same attacker or attackers. "The attack patterns are similar. So it's possible that the same group of people are perpetrating them, but we don't know for sure," Cross says.

And the data comes at a time when the industry is experiencing yet another widespread SQL injection attack called "Lizamoon," which, according to Websense, has hit some 500,000 URLs with redirects that push rogue AV software. Cisco, meanwhile, reports Lizamoon never really got off the ground because it was quickly shut down before it could do much real damage.

IBM's Cross says Lizamoon isn't as large of a SQL injection attack as the summertime ones, which originated from botnets. "This event seems to come from a couple of IP addresses," says Cross, who is further investigating the attack. "The purpose is the same: to inject redirects into websites so the site is redirected to an exploit toolkit."

The summertime SQL injection attacks in 2008, 2009, and 2010 all targeted .ASP pages. In 2008, the attack came via the Asprox botnet and used an obfuscation technique to hide the injection string. The payload in the 2009 Asprox-borne SQL injection attack used a different payload than the previous year, and in 2010 took another slightly different spin in order to evade detection, according to the IBM report.

Meanwhile, after enjoying an 11 percent decline in new vulnerabilities publicly reported in 2009, new bugs were all the rage last year, with more than 8,000 reported -- a 27 percent increase. And public exploits rose by 21 percent.

Just less than half (49 percent) of all disclosed bugs in 2010 were in Web applications, according to the IBM report. Cross-site scripting and SQL injection made up most of the attacks.

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