[ISN] Cyberattacks Up 50% By 2010, VeriSign Says

From: InfoSec News (alerts@private)
Date: Thu Feb 08 2007 - 22:04:42 PST


By Larry Greenemeier
Feb 8, 2007

VeriSign's unveiling Thursday of Project Titan, which seeks to expand 
the capacity of its global Internet infrastructure by 10 times by 2010, 
will be both a blessing and a bane to Internet users, creating a wider 
freeway for access to revolutionary new multimedia content while at the 
same time creating a greater number of targets for malicious attackers.

Cyberattacks will increase by 50% between now and Project Titan's 
completion, VeriSign CEO and chairman Stratton Sclavos said Thursday 
during his RSA Conference keynote. As long as cybercrime continues to 
grow as an industry, don't count on malicious attacks to abate on their 
own. "Where the money goes, so do the threats," he added.

While it's easy, not to mention good business, for security vendors to 
predict gloom and doom for the IT industry, Sclavos' point was 
punctuated by Tuesday's massive denial-of-service attack against the 13 
servers that help manage worldwide Internet traffic. This was a 
sophisticated attack consisting of "very, very large packets," Sclavos 
said. "Every request [made by those packets] was bogus, and every 
[packet] source was false."

Even worse, it was a sophisticated attack that "was very simple to 
deploy and scales phenomenally well," Sclavos said. "In fact, we're 
convinced that the perpetrators didn't even know how well it scales."

But the VeriSign CEO pointed the finger at himself and his colleagues in 
the security space, rather than dwelling on the attackers.

"Shame on all of us in this room who are security vendors," he said. "If 
we force our customers to choose between ease of use and better 
security, they will always choose simplicity. We have the security 
technology and have had it for years. Yet our consumers feel more 
vulnerable today than they've ever felt."

Still, it's not impossible for organizations to beat back the bad guys. 
Sclavos pointed to PayPal, one of the companies most targeted by 
attackers, as a company that has had some security success because it's 
taken the threats seriously.

"They are using (Extended Validation SSL Certificates) to be sure users 
don't make a phishing site for PayPal's site," he added.

Microsoft announced that it has enabled support for these certificates 
in Internet Explorer 7. When a user visits a site with a valid EV SSL 
Certificate, IE 7 alerts the user to the available identity information 
by turning the background of the address bar green and displaying 
identity information. Twelve certificate authorities, including 
VeriSign, Cybertrust, and Entrust, issue EV SSL Certificates.

Certificate authorities won't issue EV SSL Certificates without first 
making the organization go through a stringent sign-up process, says 
Michael Barrett, PayPal's chief information security officer. In 
addition, PayPal next week will begin offering certain clients, 
businesses, and possibly those who've been the victim of past fraud pass 
code-generating tokens for securely logging on to their PayPal accounts.

Barrett admits there's no easy way to keep bogus e-mailers (known as 
phishers) and other bad elements at bay, but that's no excuse for not 
trying, even if it means forcing cybercriminals to change their tactics. 
"There's no silver bullet," he says. "It's how much lead can you get in 
the air from a shotgun."

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