Hacked Every 39 Seconds

March 21, 2007

No updates for the past while because I’ve been up to my tonsils with work. Not that I’m complaining. One of the “joys” of having your own business is the fact that you never know what’s round the corner. My business is just over three years old now, and a lot of that 3 years was spent cold-calling prospective clients, which was neither pleasant nor productive for me. Since Christmas I have done no cold-calls, and customers are beating a path to my door. I’m not sure why this is the case but I watched “The Secret” a while back and read “The Science of Getting Rich” so I’m putting it down to that.

Anyhow, I did get time last week to browse through PC Live, (Great value for just €3), and came across this article. According to a University of Maryland study, a PC connected to the internet will on average be attacked every 39 seconds.

The study also profiled brute force attacks and found the most common methods of guessing passwords. The most common was to re-enter the username or a variation of it, (eg user: admin, pwd: admin123). Other common password guesses were ‘password’, ‘passwd’, ‘test’, ‘123’, 1234′, ‘12345’, ‘123456’ and ‘1’.

Nothing too surpirsing I suppose in the guesses, but the frequency of the attacks was interesting. It also proves again the need for effective passwords, and we’ve discussed before. Make it long, mix letters, numbers and special characters, and change it on a regular basis.

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WordPress Hacked

March 8, 2007

Having a WordPress-based blog about computer security, it would be a bit of an oversight if I didn’t mention the recent problems encountered by my gracious hosts.

Last week the server hosting the WordPress 2.1.1 download was hacked, and the code was modified to include code for remote PHP execution. According to Matt Mullenweg it appears that only two files were changed and measures have been implemented to try to prevent a recurrance. Any users of 2.1.1 should immediately upgrade to WordPress 2.1.2.

This is obviously a serious issue for WordPress, but in fairness they appear to have responded in the right way, publicising the attack and doing everything possible to make sure it doesn’t happen again. http://wordpress.org/development/2007/03/upgrade-212/

The point of this blog is that everyone can do all the simple things to protect themselves from the casual attack. This type of attack however sounds like Wordpress was a  very specific target, which makes it much more difficult to defend yourself against.

I’m sure WordPress had already invested heavily in their security infrastructure, (Firewalls, Intrusion Detection etc), so now they’re going to have to go back and look at that investment and see where it failed them. Do they need to spend more on technology to prevent a recurrance, (not necessarily always the answer), or is it a matter of ensuring more effective processes are in place.

According to Matt’s blog, a number of measures have already been implemented to stop the same thing happenning again. Time will tell if they’ve done enough.