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Significant Increase In Web Application Security Attacks, Evolution Of Attacker Strategies: Akamai Report

Posted By - DynamicCISO,

Newly released data shows that web application attacks continued to rise significantly in both the quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year timeframes, according to the Third Quarter, 2017 State of the Internet / Security Report released by Akamai Technologies. In addition, further evaluation of the Mirai botnet and WireX malware attacks suggests that attackers may leverage IoT and Android devices to build future botnet armies.

The report found that the number of web application attacks last quarter (Q3 2017) increased 69% in total from the same timeframe last year (Q3 2016). In the last quarter alone, web application attacks rose 30% as compared to the second quarter of 2017. Over the last year, a 217% increase in attacks sourcing from the U.S. was seen, with an increase of 48% in the last quarter as compared to the prior one.

SQL injection (SQLi) attacks continued to be heavily utilized by attackers as a part of the significant rise of web application attacks. This attack vector increased 62% since last year, and 19% since last quarter. The significant increase in web application attacks, particularly "injection" attacks like SQLi, should come as no surprise as the latest version of the OWASP Top 10 2017 that came out last week has "injection" (inclusive of SQLi) as the top ranked vulnerability category. This new iteration is the first major update to the OWASP Top 10 since 2013, when "injection" also resided in the top spot.

Perhaps more alarming was the result of taking a closer look at the Mirai botnet and encountering the introduction of WireX malware. While smaller than its predecessor, the Mirai malware strain, which uses Internet of Things (IoT) devices, was responsible for the largest attack seen in Q3 at 109 Gbps. The ongoing Mirai activity, coupled with the introduction of WireX, which commandeers Android devices, highlights the vast potential that exists for new sources of botnet armies.

"The lure of easy access to poorly-secured end nodes and easily-available source code make it likely that Mirai-based attacks won’t be fading in the near future," said Martin McKeay, senior security advocate and senior editor, State of the Internet / Security Report. "Our experience suggests that an army of new potential attackers comes online every day. Couple with that, the ubiquity of Android software and the growth in the Internet of Things are amplifying the risk/reward challenges that enterprises face to tremendous levels."

Other highlights from Akamai’s Third Quater 2017 Report:

  • The use of Fast Flux DNS by botnets is examined, demonstrating why the use of rapidly changing DNS information helps attackers by making it harder to track and disrupt botnets and malware.
  • The number of DDoS attacks in Q3 increased by 8% quarter over quarter, highlighted by a 13% increase in the average number of attacks per target (36).
  • Germany, despite not being among the top five source countries for DDoS attack traffic in the previous quarter, had the largest number of attack traffic source IPs in Q3 – 58,746 – 22% of the global total.
  • Egypt, last quarter’s leader for DDoS attack traffic (44,198) fell out of the top 5 in Q3.
  • Australia suffered the third most web application attacks (19,115,151) despite not even registering in the top 10 in Q2.

Related Tags - Akamai Technologies, web application attacks, SQL Injection, OWASP, WireX Malware, DDoS attack

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