Monday, January 24, 2011
Cyber Attacks Against Government Sites
On 20th Jan 2011 Researchers from Imperva's Hacker Intelligence Initiative (HII) found dozens of US government, university and defense sites have been hacked with access up for sale with prices ranging between $55-$499.
E-government is an online interaction between citizens and government to enable citizens to easily access data on government programs and schemes. World over governments have modernized their infrastructure and built Internet facing portals and applications, but these initiatives have been plagued by security breaches. Such sites become attractive hacking targets for citizens and governments of hostile countries, cyber protests by citizens and for cyber criminals to gain access and manipulate government systems for monetary gain. The results of these cyber attacks on citizens range from non availability or slow access to these services and exposure of citizen personal data. In addition government departments face a reputational loss when sites are defaced.
Some of the prominent hacking instances are:
In Jan 2011 Researchers from Imperva's Hacker Intelligence Initiative (HII) have found dozens of US government, university and defense sites have been hacked with access up for sale with prices ranging between $55-$499.
In Dec 2010 the website of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) India was hacked by programmers identifying themselves as "Pakistani Cyber Army". The home page of the CBI website had a message from the 'Pakistani Cyber Army' warning the Indian Cyber Army not to attack their websites.
Triggered by the arrest of Julian Assange, counter strikes were initiated against all sites that refused Wikileaks hosting, DNS, and payment services and websites of government officials and departments that tried to stop the redistribution of Wikileaks content. The attacks were a form of cyber protest in which many citizens participated by downloading denial of service software from the website of a hacker group.
July 2009 South Korea experienced a wave of suspected cyber-attacks - co-ordinated attempts to paralyse a number of major government and business websites. The attacks were believed to have originated from North Korea
Last year, the Iran nuclear program was attacked by the Stuxnet computer virus, which worked by increasing the speed of uranium centrifuges to breaking point for short periods. At the same time it shut off safety monitoring systems, hoodwinking operators that all was normal. The virus was supposed to have significantly set back Iran nuclear program. It is believed the virus which required significant investment to create and was specifically targeted at Iran was the creation of western governments.
In the years to come, as a large part of the economy begins to depend on Internet based transactions, the need to secure and defend economic sites and country networks will increase. Governments will need to ensure that they have well funded cyber security programs in place with a meaningful focus on employee and citizen security awareness.