Cyber-attacks are getting more automatised

Imperva today unveiled the findings of its sixth annual Web Application Attack Report (WAAR). This year’s report highlights cyber criminals’ use of automation to increase both the magnitude and velocity of attacks designed to compromise users and steal sensitive data.

Every application analysed in the report was attacked, with over 75 percent of the applications attacked by every one of the eight identified attack types.

Applications suffered a marked increase in the number of SQL injection (SQLi) and cross site scripting (XSS) attacks. SQLi attacks are designed to directly query data not meant to be revealed, and XSS attacks are frequently used to compromise users.

This year also saw hackers shift emphasis to attacking healthcare applications, likely reflecting the black market value of the personally identifiable information contained within healthcare applications.

The data also highlights an increase in the percentage of attacks successfully identified and blocked by reputation services, further validating that already identified and known hackers use automation to more effectively and efficiently launch attacks against a broad set of targets. The highlights of the report include:

  • All applications are under increased attacks, including Shellshock attacks launched blindly against any and every public facing application.
  • Shellshock attacks were recorded on 100 percent of the applications under analysis.
  • Applications suffered a three times year-over-year increase in SQLi attacks. Successful SQLi attacks allow cyber criminals to access data not meant to be revealed.
  • Applications suffered a 2.5 times year-over-year increase in XSS attacks. XSS attacks are frequently used by cyber criminals to compromise users.
  • Healthcare applications suffer 10 times more XSS attacks than applications in other industries. This represents a shift from retail applications being the most targeted in last year’s report.
  • Detect-by-reputation mechanisms have become increasingly effective against attacks.
  • 78 percent of the malicious alerts were identified by Imperva ThreatRadar Reputation Services as coming from known bad actors.
  • Content Management Systems (CMS) such as WordPress and Drupal, and healthcare applications were the most frequently targeted.
  • CMS applications were attacked three times more frequently than non-CMS applications.
  • Sites hosted on WordPress, a popular CMS, are under threat, with WordPress applications experiencing 250 percent more attack incidents than non-CMS applications.

The 2015 WAAR report, published by the Imperva Application Defense Center (ADC), analyzed approximately 300,000 attacks, including more than 22 million cyber alerts on 198 applications ranging from WordPress to healthcare to retail applications, all of which were protected by the Imperva SecureSphere Web Application Firewall solution. The research was conducted over a period of six months, from January 1 to June 30, 2015.