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FireHost reveals surge in complex malware attacks in Q3

Malware attacks are on the rise, according to a report published by secure cloud-hosting firm Firehost.

Two specific types of attack, known as cross-site scripting (XSS) and SQL injection, have risen by 32 per cent in the third quarter of this year, the study reveals.

A cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability allows hackers to inject script into web pages, which can then be used to bypass certain access controls. SQL injection, on the other hand, is a form of code injection, and has until now been the domain of only the most talented hackers.

Code injection is when a malicious programme adds certain lines of code to a running process, changing its operation. It's common for computer worms, for example, to burrow into systems and change the operating code in order to hide or spread themselves.

The problem, the report suggests, is that automated tools are now allowing less talented hackers to perform complex SQL injection attacks that would previously have been inaccessible to them.

Firehost blocked nearly 32 million SQL and XXS attacks in this year's Q3 alone, against nearly 24 million in Q2. This suggests that not only are the attacks increasing in number, but they are also becoming increasingly automated.

The report cited an increase in the amount of sensitive information being kept in the cloud as one of the main reasons for the dramatic increase in attacks.

"The adoption of cloud computing, mobile applications and virtualized enterprise architectures have led to an expansion of applications that are connected to Internet resources," FireHost founder and CEO Chris Drake said in a statement.

But while the increasing ubiquity of cloud computing is partly to blame, gross underspending on security is another culprit in the business world.

"Today, in many organisations, as much as $1 out of every $10 invested in enterprise infrastructure technology is allocated to protect network resources. Only $1 out of $100 is invested in web application security. This unbalanced approach does not reflect the newly emerging threat landscape," said Drake.

According to Jeremiah Grossman, founder and CTO of WhiteHat Security, the hacker community is becoming increasingly creative, combining different forms of attack in order to inject code and penetrate databases underpinning web-based applications.

Graph: Firehost

Paul has worked as an archivist, editor and journalist, and has a PhD in the cultural and literary significance of ruins. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, The BBC, The Atlantic, National Geographic, and Discover Magazine, and he was previously Staff Writer and Journalist at ITProPortal.