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The Sixth Annual Imperva Web Application Attack Report Highlights Rapid Automation and Industrialization of Cyber Attacks

November 2015 by Imperva

Imperva, Inc. 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 analyzed 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. 2015 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.

“This year’s report illustrates that any and every web application may come under attack by cyber criminals, due in large part to the fact that hackers have industrialized – making broad attacks possible – the techniques used to gain access to valuable personally identifiable information,” said Amichai Shulman, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Imperva. “As a result, every web application is at risk. Businesses must pay particular attention to directly protecting data and applications by using security measures like a web application firewall, ideally in conjunction with real-time reputation services.”

Key findings from the report include:

• All applications are under increased attacks, including Shellshock attacks launched blindly against any and every public facing application.
o Shellshock attacks were recorded on 100 percent of the applications under analysis.
o 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.
o Applications suffered a 2.5 times year-over-year increase in XSS attacks. XSS attacks are frequently used by cyber criminals to compromise users.
o 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.
o 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.
o CMS applications were attacked three times more frequently than non-CMS applications.
o 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.

The Imperva ADC is a premier research organization for security analysis, vulnerability discovery and compliance expertise. ADC research combines extensive lab work with hands-on testing in real world environments to enhance Imperva products, through advanced data security technology, with the goal of delivering up-to-date threat protection and unparalleled compliance automation. The ADC regularly conducts research on the evolving threat landscape, including the Hackers Intelligence Initiative (HII) report and the Web Application Attack Report.




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