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Compromised US and Chinese Computers Launch Greatest Number of Cyber Attacks, According to SecureWorks' Data

Organizations and Individuals Need to Enhance Computer Security

ATLANTA, Sept. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- SecureWorks(R), one of the market's leading Security-as-a-Service (SaaS) providers, has published the locations of the computers, from which the greatest number of cyber attacks were attempted against its clients in 2008. The United States topped the list with 20.6 million attempted attacks originating from computers within the country and China ran second with 7.7 million attempted attacks emanating from computers within its borders.

This was followed by Brazil with over 166,987 attempted attacks, South Korea with 162,289, Poland with 153,205, Japan with 142,346, Russia with 130,572, Taiwan with 124,997, Germany with 110,493, and Canada with 107,483.

"We believe these statistics are significant because it clearly shows that the United States and China have a lot of vulnerable computers that have been compromised and are being used as bots to launch cyber attacks," said Hunter King, security researcher for SecureWorks. "This should be a warning to organizations and personal computer users that, not only are they putting their computers and networks at risk by not securing them, but they are actually providing these cyber criminals with a platform from which to compromise other computers."

Computer security can be greatly improved by keeping your web browser and operating system up to date, using the latest versions of antivirus and antispyware software, following safe computer practices such as being wary of the websites you visit, and not clicking on attachments and links within emails until verifying that the sender intentionally sent the enclosed link or attachment."

"These findings illustrate the ineffectiveness of simply blocking incoming communications from foreign IP addresses as a way to defend your organization from cyber attacks, as many hackers hijack computers outside their borders to attack their victims," said Don Jackson, Director of Threat Intelligence for SecureWorks. "The Georgia/Russia cyber conflict was a perfect example of this. Many of the Georgian IT staff members thought that by blocking Russian IP addresses they would be able to protect their networks, however, many of the Russian attacks were actually launched from IP addresses in Turkey and the United States so consequently they were hit hard. This was a perfect example where we saw Russian cyber criminals using compromised computers outside their borders."

"On the other hand, we have found that many of the Chinese hackers will compromise large networks within their own country and use them as bots to attack other organizations," continued Jackson. "For example, entire university networks in China will belong to local hacker groups."

"China's hackers do create botnets from spamming through email and blogs, but a relatively larger percentage of the compromised hosts under Chinese control are simply machines in schools, data centers, companies -- in other words, on large networks -- that are mostly unguarded and consequently are entirely controlled by hacker groups, as opposed to distributed bots harvested from widely distributed international spam runs, said Jackson. "And often the groups have an insider in the networks they own. We also see many local hacker groups in Japan and Poland compromise hosts within their own country to use in cyber attacks, so the Chinese hackers are not alone in using resources within their own borders."

With hackers utilizing computer resources inside and outside of their borders, SecureWorks suggests that in addition to securing computers with ongoing system and security updates and patches, organizations should utilize a black list to block inbound communications from known malicious IP addresses. Organizations should also block outbound communications to foreign countries known to harbor hackers and block outbound communications to hostile networks known to host criminal activity. This way if your organization does have an infected host within its network, then the host will be blocked from sending personal or company data to the cyber criminals. Of course, some of these hostile networks do support a handful of legitimate sites. In addition to a blacklist, your organization can use a separate whitelist to allow outbound communication only to trustworthy sites on those otherwise hostile networks.

"SecureWorks blocks attacks no matter what machines or countries they are coming from. When a machine represents a clear and present danger our Security Operations Center and technology might decide to block all traffic from that machine forcing the criminals to be constantly finding new machines to attack from," said Jon Ramsey, SecureWorks' CTO.

About SecureWorks

With over 2,000 clients, SecureWorks is one of the market's leading Security as a Service providers. Organizations are protected from external and internal cyber-threats through SecureWorks' On-Demand Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) platform, the SecureWorks Counter Threat Unit(TM) and three fully synchronous Security Operations Centers (SOCs) staffed with SANS GIAC certified analysts working 24x7 to safeguard client systems. SecureWorks has won SC Magazine's "Best Managed Security Service" award for 2006, 2007 & 2008, Best Intrusion Prevention 2006 and has been named to the Inc 500 and Deloitte lists of fastest-growing companies. .

SOURCE SecureWorks
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