Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Vulnerabilities / Threats

2/7/2012
05:12 AM
Dark Reading
Dark Reading
Quick Hits
50%
50%

How (And Why) Attackers Choose Their Targets

To build a sure defense, you need to know what makes you a juicy target. Here are some tips

[The following is excerpted from "How (and Why) Attackers Choose Their Targets," a new report posted this week on Dark Reading's Vulnerability Management Tech Center.]

Every day, we hear another story about a company whose sensitive data has been breached. Press releases, tweets, customer support email, and followup articles all provide insight into the kind of information that’s been compromised, the company’s plans to investigate, and how affected parties can protect themselves. But what’s almost never shared—unless the attacker spreads the word—is how and why the target was chosen and which methods and tools were used.

To effectively fend off attacks and protect our data systems, we must determine how hackers identify their targets and exploit weaknesses to extract data. We must also understand what motivates hackers.

Verizon’s 2011 Data Breach Investigations Report found that 92 percent of data breaches studied stemmed from external agents, 17 percent from implicated insiders, 9 percent from multiple parties and fewer than 1 percent from business partners.

There is no single method used to identify and compromise vulnerable targets. Much like rock stars and CEOs, each attacker has a unique style and process. However, some methods are simply more successful than others and thus tend to be used more often.The 2011 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report found that 50 percent of breaches studied resulted from some form of hacking, 49 percent incorporated malware, 29 percent involved physical attacks, 17 percent resulted from privilege misuse, and 11 percent employed social tactics.

To identify vulnerable hosts, an attacker will begin scanning for a specific set of vulnerabilities known to be exploitable and prevalent in the wild. And, much like security industry professionals discuss best practices, attackers share knowledge about how quickly each finds targets vulnerable to specific attacks.

Many scripts and scanners are used to find and exploit vulnerabilities—the MySql 5 Enumeration script from Blackhat Academy, for instance, is used to automatically exploit SQL injection flaws. It is trivial to wrap this script with a scanner that spiders a provided URL list and tests for SQL injection flaws. This type of attack targets a known type of vulnerability rather than a specifically known application flaw. These attacks allow a hacker to exploit flaws a company isn’t even aware of and thus probably won’t have an immediate fix for.

To learn more about how attackers find vulnerabilities and choose the organizations they want to go after, download the full report on how hackers choose their targets.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Comment" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 10/27/2020
Modern Day Insider Threat: Network Bugs That Are Stealing Your Data
David Pearson, Principal Threat Researcher,  10/21/2020
Are You One COVID-19 Test Away From a Cybersecurity Disaster?
Alan Brill, Senior Managing Director, Cyber Risk Practice, Kroll,  10/21/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
The COVID-19 pandemic turned the world -- and enterprise computing -- on end. Here's a look at how cybersecurity teams are retrenching their defense strategies, rebuilding their teams, and selecting new technologies to stop the oncoming rise of online attacks.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-27956
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-28
An Arbitrary File Upload in the Upload Image component in SourceCodester Car Rental Management System 1.0 allows the user to conduct remote code execution via admin/index.php?page=manage_car because .php files can be uploaded to admin/assets/uploads/ (under the web root).
CVE-2020-27957
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-28
The RandomGameUnit extension for MediaWiki through 1.35 was not properly escaping various title-related data. When certain varieties of games were created within MediaWiki, their names or titles could be manipulated to generate stored XSS within the RandomGameUnit extension.
CVE-2020-16140
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-27
The search functionality of the Greenmart theme 2.4.2 for WordPress is vulnerable to XSS.
CVE-2020-9982
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-27
This issue was addressed with improved checks to prevent unauthorized actions. This issue is fixed in Apple Music 3.4.0 for Android. A malicious application may be able to leak a user's credentials.
CVE-2020-3855
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-27
An access issue was addressed with improved access restrictions. This issue is fixed in macOS Catalina 10.15.3, Security Update 2020-001 Mojave, Security Update 2020-001 High Sierra. A malicious application may be able to overwrite arbitrary files.