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Kiwis with broadband attacked 102 times in 24hours

News release:

Kiwis with broadband attacked 102 times in 24hours

*** NetSafe & IBM mark International Computer Security Day with Internet security experiment

AUCKLAND, NZ, Nov. 29, 2006 - A New Zealand computer connected to the Internet is typically targeted more than a hundred times a day by a variety of worms, viruses, trojans, and hackers, according to a study released today by NetSafe - The Internet Safety Group, and IBM New Zealand.

To coincide with Computer Security Day, held worldwide on November 30, NetSafe and IBM conducted a month-long study that examined the type and frequency of threats exposed to a computer accessing popular websites via a broadband connection. The threats were monitored by intrusion detection software running on a computer equipped with an updated firewall and operating system that automatically downloads system updates and security patches.

“We wanted to see what happened when New Zealanders who use basic Internet safety precautions, like an updated firewall, went online to access popular websites,” says NetSafe Executive Director Martin Cocker.

The first suspicious activity was detected within 20 seconds of being connected to the Internet.

More than 4,500 suspicious or malicious events were recorded when the computer was protected with an updated firewall for the first 27 days of the study. The number of attacks per day soared dramatically when the firewall was disabled for three days at the end of the experiment, to approximately 538 per day. Among the threats included “malware” designed to hijack control of the computer.

IBM New Zealand security specialist John Martin says there are thousands of malware programmes roaming the Internet daily, and that New Zealanders can expect internet security risks to intensify if trends in other countries are anything to go by. He points to a recent IBM global study that shows that more US businesses believe that cybercrime is a greater threat to their businesses than physical crime.

“Hijackers can use your computer to steal your bandwidth or personal information like your credit card details,” says Mr Martin. “They can also connect to other hijacked computers, creating a ‘zombie network’ that can launch attacks against commercial organisations.”

The computer in the study was not compromised because the intruders were either unable to get past the firewall or find any weak spots in the operating system during the short time the firewall was disabled.

“The good news from the study,” says NetSafe’s Mr Cocker, “is that New Zealanders can easily minimise security risks by being careful online, and by doing the 'Net basics,' which include implementing basic Internet security measures such as an updated firewall and operating system."

For more information on the 'Net basics' and how to use the Internet safely, please visit www.netsafe.org.nz.

ENDS

Note to editors:

The following attacks were recorded before the firewall was disabled:
• 315 Denial of service attacks
• 630 Slammer worm attacks possibly from infected hosts
• 4 Reconnaissance attempts
• 1913 Interrogation i.e. “Are you alive?” attempts
• the majority of these attacks appeared to come from countries other than New Zealand.

After the firewall was disabled, the results changed dramatically. In just three days there were:
• 136 Distributed scans
• 542 Attacks against known vulnerabilities
• 304 Attempts to execute exploits against the system
• 69 Slammer worm attacks possibly from infected hosts
• the majority of these attacks appeared to come from countries other than New Zealand.

*** About NetSafe - The Internet Safety Group
Established in 1998, NetSafe is an independent, non-profit organisation which specialises in educating New Zealanders (children, parents, schools, community organisations and businesses) about the safe and responsible use of information communication technology. NetSafe is the Ministry of Education’s ‘agent of choice for cybersafety education and online security for all New Zealanders’, and is cited in the government’s ’Digital Strategy’ (May 2005). For more information about NetSafe, visit www.netsafe.org.nz .

*** About IBM
IBM is the world's largest information technology company, with 80 years of leadership in helping businesses innovate. Drawing on resources from across IBM and key IBM Business Partners, IBM offers a wide range of services, solutions and technologies that enable customers, large and small, to take full advantage of the new era of on demand business. For more information about IBM, visit http://www.ibm.com .

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