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Number of Web Application Hacks Up 53

Posted by Zonk
from the i-haxxored-your-netflix-account dept.
An anonymous reader writes "According to an article at Information Week, 'Web site hacks are on the rise and pose a greater threat than the broad-based network attacks...' Citing statistics from the Web Hacking Incidents Database, 'Web hacking attacks numbered 58 in 2005, up from 16 in 2004 and 9 in 2003. Another 20 attacks have been reported this year against sites including open-source repository Sourceforge.net and social network MySpace.com, putting 2006 on pace to be the worst year yet.'"
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Number of Web Application Hacks Up

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  • by mysqlrocks (783488) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @06:03PM (#15125387) Homepage Journal
    Web hacking attacks numbered 58 in 2005, up from 16 in 2004 and 9 in 2003, according to the Web Application Security Consortium.

    And what percentage of "web hacking attacks" are reported to the Web Application Security Consortium? I would venture to guess that a very small number are reported making these numbers statistically meaningless.
    • That depends. Even if only a small percentage of all web attacks are reported, if that percentage stays stable then a rise in the number reported implies a rise in the total number of attacks. Of course, we don't know if, in fact, the precentage has remained stable or if it's simply that a larger percentage are being reported.
      • by mysqlrocks (783488) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @06:41PM (#15125758) Homepage Journal
        Even if only a small percentage of all web attacks are reported, if that percentage stays stable then a rise in the number reported implies a rise in the total number of attacks.

        Let's assume for a second that 1% of all attacks are reported. That would mean that 16 out of 1600 were reported in 2004 and 58 out of 5800 were reported in 2005. Now, let's say that the percentage of reports increased by 1% point in 2005. So, 1% reported in 2004 and 2% reported in 2005. That would mean that 16 out of 1600 were reported in 2004 and 58 out of 2900 were reported in 2005. So, in this scenario what looked look a 362.5% increase in attacks is actually only a 181.25% increase in attacks. So, a small change in the reported percentage could make a huge difference in the apparent increase. These numbers are so ridiculously low to begin with, I wouldn't be surprised if less than 1% of web attacks are reported. I looked through the list and can think of some attacks I know of to some pretty big sites that weren't reported. Plus, some incidents are pretty generic and don't address a specific attack while others do address specific attacks. So, their definition of a "Web hacking attacks" seems to be quite fluid. Basically what I'm saying is that these numbers are absolutely meaningless.
        • Good point. Also, does the definition of "attack" extend to attempted attacks, or does it only apply to successful attacks? If I tried to punch you, but missed, I still attacked you, so I'd say attempts count.

          Plus, out of curiousity, I've tried some SQL injection attacks on web sites. Never anything malicious, just changing selection criteria to see if the site made any attempt to escape quotes and such for SQL parameters. Should those count?
        • Please note that I specified that we don't know if the percentage reported has remained stable or not, and your post shows exactly why I made that qualification. Thanx for spelling it out for those who may not have understood the significance.
        • If you are aware of incidents that are not in WHID I would appreciate it if you took the time to write to us about them. There might be a reason that they are not there (in most cases we cannot establish that they are web hacks) or we just missed them. Also, as the FAQ states, if you feel that a reported incident is not classified correctly or should not be included in the database, please write.

          As to the statistical value of the database: the numbers are indeed too small to conclude any accurate conclusi

      • Statistically, if some small percentage of attacks is reported, then you could, if you knew on average what percentage is reported, divide the number reported by that percentage and get an estimator of the total number of attacks. However, the variance of that estimator gets much much higher as the percentage gets lower.
    • The number reported would be worthless even if we had every single hack documented UNLESS they also include the total number of operating websites in these years with a significant enough amount of traffic to consider the hack more than an isolated prank. Otherwise what are we even talking about? I'm sure the number of deaths due to car accidents increased a lot between 1890 and 1930....
    • According to to the Web Application Security Consortium, there were 58 web hacking attacks in 2005.

      According to zone-h.org [zone-h.org], there were 494,988 web hacking attacks in 2005.

      Close enough.
      • As the person behind WHID, let me try to clarify: the criteria for inclusion in WHID are very strict. The goal is to list only incidents that are related to web application layer vulnerabilities and can publicly proved to be so. We do that in order to show that application layer security is an issue without getting into FUD.

        Specifically addressing the defacement incidents reported in zone-h, bear in mind that in nearly all of these incidents there is no public information on the way in which they where ca

  • by Ravatar (891374) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @06:03PM (#15125388)
    I wouldn't say the focus should be on the fact that there are a higher amount of attacks, rather the focus should be on people writing web applications with security low on their priority list.
    • rather the focus should be on people writing web applications with security low on their priority list.

      I agree, and I think that the reason there are people writing web applications and not thinking about security is that web apps are still thought of by businesses as "pretty things to attract customers" rather than, "part of our network"

      Pretty things are low on the list of priorities for managers, so they hire some kid to make their website.

      I can't say that I've *ever* seen PHP or Perl or ASP code that loo
      • I can't say that I've *ever* seen PHP or Perl or ASP code that looked like someone put some thought into it.

        You obviously haven't seen any of my PHP and Perl code (I've never written ASP). Of course, it may be that you haven't seen my web applications code because I'm not a "web designer" - can't get a job in that industry, which speaks to the truth of your assertions concerning who companies hire to create web applications.

      • Just curious, can you provide some examples of code you *have* seen that looks like someone put some thought into it?
      • > I can't say that I've *ever* seen PHP or Perl that looked like someone put some thought into it.

        I think you should pay a visit to the CPAN [cpan.org]. It's 4G+ of perl modules that are well documented, fully unit-tested, and largely platform independent. I've seen some bad web applications in my time (all PHP incidentally), but there are plenty of excellent perl programmers writing excellent perl code.

        If you're interested in learning to write good Perl, I suggest you take a look at Damian Conway's book, "Perl B
        • Also, if your going to read any type of advanced perl, Jeffrey E.F. Friedl, "Mastering Regular Expressions" O'reilly Media is highly recommended. I'm the one doing the recommendation, so there are bound to be other opinions, but I think that it's probably my most important perl book.

          Lando
  • Ugh (Score:2, Funny)

    From the article: Why is this happening? Several reasons. One is the prevalence of hacking tools online that can be found simply by using the Google search engine.

    So does that mean if I do all my web searches on my windows 98 machine using internet explorer but I use MSN search, not google, I'll be OK?

    -Grey [wellingtongrey.net]
  • Web hacking attacks numbered 58 in 2005, up from 16 in 2004 and 9 in 2003. Another 20 attacks have been reported this year against sites including open-source repository Sourceforge.net and social network MySpace.com, putting 2006 on pace to be the worst year yet.

    I have a feeling there are a LOT more than that. Anyone have a calculator to lend them?

  • by eln (21727) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @06:05PM (#15125410) Homepage
    First off, we're talking 58 attacks in a whole year out of how many millions of websites? Those are pretty good odds.

    Also, the article states this is a big deal partly because more financial institutions are offering services online. But then, they state one of the major reasons for the problem is that web applications are generally not coded with security in mind. If you're coding a web app for a financial institution, and security is not the number one issue on your mind, you should be fired, and the financial institution should be put out of business for hiring your dumb ass in the first place.
    • I'd say that most applications that obviously demand tight security, such as finance, aren't the problem. In these cases, the fact that security is critical is obvious even to the most naive. Remember that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. It is the other little known, poorly secured backdoors that are the problem.
    • If you're coding a web app for a financial institution, and security is not the number one issue on your mind, you should be fired, and the financial institution should be put out of business for hiring your dumb ass in the first place.

      Nevermind that the framework you're working with is inherently insecure. Or that the financial institutions themselves routinely make gigantic errors. It's a house of cards, man. A HOUSE of CARDS!
  • What's that percentage attacks / web sites? Is 58 pages in the 64,700,000 pages that Google claims to have found a lot of attacks. ;-)
  • Tuttle? (Score:5, Funny)

    by daveo0331 (469843) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @06:19PM (#15125554) Homepage Journal
    Who's reporting all these attacks? The city manager of Tuttle, Oklahoma? [slashdot.org]
  • I think the amount of Danish websites that got hacked was higher then 58.... so wtf is TFA talking about?
    • no kidding... fta:
      Web hacking attacks numbered 58 in 2005, up from 16 in 2004 and 9 in 2003, according to the Web Application Security Consortium.

      those numbers seem rediculously low, and based on what? the tiny little company i work for, i think i've had *at least* that many failed sql injection attacks in my logs this year.

      where the hell are these number coming from?

  • by Bananas (156733) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @06:22PM (#15125587) Homepage
    You call double-digit hacks a growing trend? Where do these folks live, under a rock? Don't tell me you've never heard of Attrition.org [attrition.org]? Just how many HUNDREDS of sites were defaced in the past?
  • The premier example being MySpace. With its interruptive, garish UI paradigm and its numerous design flaws (both functional and aesthetic), it appears to be attempting to singlehandedly dumb down the web. Personally, this concerns me a lot more than the occasional, fixable hacks: the overall missed opportunity when millions of users settle for a low-quality, repetitious, limiting experience, as MySpace provides.
  • Only one in 1999? What a wonderful world we lived in. This [zone-h.org] presents a rather different picture.
    • 99% of those barely quality as "website hacks". In fact, most of the entries found on the first 10 pages or so are just a few people searching the internet for vulnerable gallery software or exploiting well known and already-patched OS vulnerabilities.

      Downloading an exploitive script and using it against 100,000 web pages hoping to hit one or two isn't hacking.
      • I would call this "hacking" in the skills sense, but executing these scripts does result in defacements, which is listed on the reference site.
  • by PietjeJantje (917584) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @07:16PM (#15125980)
    The number of cracks will rise because of AJAX hacking.
    It's not only the interface and usability which takes a leap in complexity if you want to keep stuff working.
    First, you have data communication on the background, for everyone curious to see. Second, there's a leap in usage and development and thus potential for crackers. Last, the average AJAX developer is inexperienced.
    • You sir, are spreading FUD if ever anyone has
      First, you have data communication on the background, for everyone curious to see.
      If you're sending critical data over a non-SSL connection, whether its AJAX or anything else, you deserve what you get.

      Second, there's a leap in usage and development and thus potential for crackers.
      What does this mean? More code is written so there's a greater chance that there will be a bug? True, but this is true with ALL software. Plus, AJAX is usually using an interfac
      • > You sir, are spreading FUD if ever anyone has

        Uhm, why would anyone spread FUD about what he's currently doing by choice? That's ridiculous and hardly an impressive introduction.

        > Ummm, I was coding web apps well before AJAX became "the thing". Am I less experienced at writing things for AJAX, yes, it hasn't really been en vogue as long as JSP/Java. Am I a pretty experienced developer and web developer who picked up AJAX because it could enhance his apps, yes. You (and many others) seem to have t

        • Do I use AJAX, do I think its cool? Yeah, that's why I use it. But you seem to suggest that somehow an AJAX request is different from any other HTTP request a server receives. To the best of my knowledge this is untrue, if I am incorrect, enlighten me.

          Maybe you're just afraid that something comes along that changes the value of your skill set.

          The value of a skill set depreciates over time, just like almost all assets, don't upgrade it and you're f'ed. That's why I learned about AJAX in the first pla
  • PHPBB (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    How much you want to bet that 80% of them were PHPBB forums? Why the heck do we have to patch these things on a monthly basis?
  • by sphix42 (144155) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @09:28PM (#15126652) Homepage
    My code was left in their code base when they closed their source years ago, but they didn't compensate me or even try to contact me about it. Very sorry for giving you my time and code, OSDN.
  • I use a few hacks on most of my websites - but I kind of have to, to get them to render in IE correctly. It's not as bad as it used to be, and I could probably eliminate some of them if I used a little less javascript or ... hey - wait a minute - this is talking about web site *attacks*! Not hacks on websites.

    uhh... Nevermind.

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