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Group Reports May Already Record Month for Overt Digital Attacks

Only 20 days in, May 2003 had already broken the record for the most overt digital attacks in one month, according to digital risk assessment firm mi2g.

The firm, which has been tracking such attacks since 1996, recorded 20,182 overt attacks through Tuesday, May 20. The previous record was 19,658 attacks, recorded by mi2g in January of this year. May 4, 2003 now holds the title for most attacks in a single day, with 2,576 verified attacks, according to mi2g's attack database.

Microsoft platforms, however, seem to be less attractive to attackers than they were last year. As recently as September 2002, more than half of the successful overt attacks logged by mi2g hit Microsoft systems. This time, the firm reports that Linux systems accounted for 78 percent of the recorded digital attacks, with 13 percent of the successful attacks hitting Windows. In any case, misconfigured and unpatched systems were the main victims, according to mi2g.

In addition to breaking records for May, the entire year is certainly headed for a record number of digital attacks. The mi2g monitors have recorded more than 86,000 overt attacks this year. The record, set in 2002, is 87,525 attacks.

Mi2g defines an overt digital attack as an incident in which a hacker group gains unauthorized access to an online system and makes modifications to any publicly visible component.

Among the usual suspect motivations, such as criminal syndicates, surveillance, intellectual challenge, identity theft and financial fraud, mi2g officials say political protest is becoming a more important component.

"Individuals disenchanted with domestic government and U.S. foreign policy are expressing their views through cyberspace," mi2g executive chairman D.K. Matai said in a statement. "The ready availability of computing power, communications bandwidth and ample supply of automated attack tools is contributing to this unprecedented level of digital turbulence."

Governments hardest hit by attacks in May include China, Colombia, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, the United States, Turkey, India and Morocco.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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