Hacking Goes Mainstream

Hacking headlines previously found only on tech blogs and IT forums are now showing up in mainstream media, and even pop culture. A number of high-profile cases, and the allure of cyber espionage have propelled hacking into the limelight. While incidents involving large companies and institutions are the most widely reported, smaller companies are not immune. Any company that has valuable intellectual property or trade secrets is likely being targeted continually, all day long, every day, relentlessly. In this article we’ll explore some of the culprits in today’s most publicized hacking attacks and how you can prevent them.

Distributed Denial of Service Attacks (DDoS) 

Distributed Denial of Service Attacks are a frequent weapon of choice among hackers looking to cause headaches for both IT and PR departments. Put simply, DDoS attacks typically attempt to cripple websites by overwhelming them with excessive external communication requests, the result makes your website inaccessible to customers and employees. Gartner estimates that serious Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks grew more than 30% in 2010 compared to 2009, and that this trend has continued into 2011. Recent high-profile cases by the hacker group Anonymous, who first made their way into the mainstream as staunch supporters of Wikileaks, include successful DDoS attacks on MasterCard, Visa, and PayPal.

Organizations of all sizes should develop an incident response plan for responding to DDoS attacks, analyze the financial impact of temporarily losing company Web presence, and select the appropriate services and product offerings to mitigate the DDoS threat. View defense against DDoS-attacks as part of your organization's business continuity and disaster recovery strategy.

Malware

Malware, short for malicious software, consists of programming (code, scripts, active content, and other software) designed to disrupt or deny operation, gather information that leads to loss of privacy or exploitation, gain unauthorized access to system resources, and other abusive behavior. Banks consider malware their biggest immediate cyber-security threat, according to a new Gartner survey, and malware-based attacks are spreading to multiple sectors and enterprises. Aside from banks, malware-based attacks have been responsible for targeted attacks in many types of companies and even Hollywood celebrities. This week a FBI spokeswoman in Los Angeles was quoted saying agents are investigating a series of computer hacking attacks on celebrities. Although the FBI cannot confirm names, several media outlets have reported Scarlett Johansson and Mila Kunis as the probable victims.

Large and small enterprises now need perimeter-based anti-malware protection, and many organizations seek more granular policy controls for dealing with social networking. The market has responded with a range of options that broadly fits into two categories: on-premises equipment and cloud-based services. For example, Windsream's IDPS (Intrusion Detection and Prevention System) works along with Windstream's Network Firewall service to provide both IPS (Intrusion Prevention Sensors) and IDS (Intrusion Detection System) protection over an entire network. If a potential malware threat is detected, customers are instantly alerted by e-mail with alarm details, steps for mitigation, and access to Windstream's skilled Security Operations Center Engineers who then work to remediate any vulnerability from the attempted attack.

Hacking and security threats are becoming increasingly dynamic and will continue to wreak havoc for those who fail to adequately prepare for them. For more information on the types of security services available to your business check outWindstream's security solutions.

References:
Enterprise Strategies for Mitigating Denial-of-Service Attacks. Gartner. Gartner.com
The Five Layers of Fraud Prevention and Using Them to Beat Malware. Gartner. Gartner.com