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The Big Attacks are Back…Not That They Ever Stopped

No one is immune from being a target and the perpetrators are exceedingly organized

As we’ve seen with some of the recent high profile internet attacks, like HBGary, RSA, Google, Comodo and others, no one is immune from being a target and the perpetrators are exceedingly organized, exceptionally skilled and extremely well-funded. Often, the culprits might be better trained than the IT staff deployed to thwart the attacks. The attacks are targeted, elaborate and aggressive, not to mention a bit creative. The attacks are multi-layered in that once one type of attack settles in, another can and will crop up. They are not simply looking to deface a website but they are attempting to steal valuable data. Customer data, intellectual property, state secrets, SSL certificates and other proprietary, highly sensitive information are the top targets. The malware and other penetration techniques are custom made, can adapt and can cover the tracks of those seeking the information. They may start at the network level with DNS, ICMP or SYN flood attacks, then move to the application with Layer 7 DoS, SQL injection, or Cross-site scripts and once compromised, go after the data. Often they try to leave ‘back-doors’ so they can come and go as they please before being detected.  And the targets are changing.  A couple years ago it was retail and financial, like Target and Heartland, that were getting attacked and while those industries are still coveted kills, security companies, sensitive corporate secrets, and the internet’s overall infrastructure seem to be especially savory these days.

Many organizations do a decent job of securing their infrastructure components but are challenged when it comes to securing their web applications, whether they are hosted in a cloud environment, in-house or both. Forester reported that in 2009, 79% of breached records were the result of web application attacks. An application breach can cost companies significant amounts of money and seriously damage brand reputation. The 2010 Symantec/Ponemon Data Breach Loss Report calculated that the average cost to a company was $214 per compromised record and $7.2 million over the entire organization. Other areas that an organization may have to address as part of the breach include compliance issues, legal actions, public scrutiny and loss of trust.

BIG-IP ASM provides the application protection you require to block the evolving threats no matter where your applications are deployed in today’s dynamic environments. One such threat is the recent ‘Slow HTTP DOS attack,’ which allows attackers to launch a DDoS attack by first sending a POST request with valid ‘content-length’ information and then slowly sending the POST message body, which leaves the server connection open depleting resources and eventually crippling the server’s ability to accept new connections.  BIG-IP ASM, a high performance, ICSA certified web application firewall (WAF) can protect against this HTTP vulnerability out of the box with HF-1.  Most of our competitors have addressed it through signature updates, or not at all.  Signatures are great when they discover Slowloris, not so great when they encounter 5l0wl0ri5.32a.

Today, IT faces a variety of changes that require control points that can adapt dynamically and secure applications and their content as its being delivered from a variety of locations to a mass of users. This is especially true for cloud computing deployments and infrastructures that span between the cloud and the organization’s data center.  F5 has the solutions to make any application deployment endeavor swift, successful and secure.

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Technorati Tags: BIG-IP, F5, silva, Oracle, Oracle Database Firewall, ASM, WAF, web application firewall, security, application security, database security, infrastructure 2.0

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More Stories By Peter Silva

Peter Silva covers security for F5’s Technical Marketing Team. After working in Professional Theatre for 10 years, Peter decided to change careers. Starting out with a small VAR selling Netopia routers and the Instant Internet box, he soon became one of the first six Internet Specialists for AT&T managing customers on the original ATT WorldNet network.

Now having his Telco background he moved to Verio to focus on access, IP security along with web hosting. After losing a deal to Exodus Communications (now Savvis) for technical reasons, the customer still wanted Peter as their local SE contact so Exodus made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. As only the third person hired in the Midwest, he helped Exodus grow from an executive suite to two enormous datacenters in the Chicago land area working with such customers as Ticketmaster, Rolling Stone, uBid, Orbitz, Best Buy and others.

Bringing the slightly theatrical and fairly technical together, he covers training, writing, speaking, along with overall product evangelism for F5’s security line. He's also produced over 200 F5 videos and recorded over 50 audio whitepapers. Prior to joining F5, he was the Business Development Manager with Pacific Wireless Communications. He’s also been in such plays as The Glass Menagerie, All’s Well That Ends Well, Cinderella and others. He earned his B.S. from Marquette University, and is a certified instructor in the Wisconsin System of Vocational, Technical & Adult Education.

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