Threats to the internet have increased significantly in recent months as cyber criminals step up the frequency and sophistication of their attacks, leading to a need for drastic action on the structure of the internet, according to experts speaking at a recent Neustar security forum in London.
Security professionals are constantly playing catch-up to cyber criminals, and the speakers put forward arguments about how the internet DNS should be secured through the use of DNS Security Extensions. However, they argued that in the longer term, the whole design of the internet needs to be rebuilt from scratch in order to mitigate the increasing risks.
Neustar chief technology officer Rodney Joffe explained that the security event had been designed to raise awareness among large organisations in the UK about new internet threats.
"The threat landscape has really changed. Originally we were dealing with youngsters, then it was criminals, but now it is more international and we are looking at corporate espionage and threats from nation state actors," he said.
"Threats that have surfaced in the last few months are unlike those people have looked at before. Most of the time people look at threats relating to desktop or system compromises, but these are treatable by taking steps within a company.
"Now there are vulnerabilities that are network-based and, because of weaknesses in the protocols, there are no easy solutions."
Joffe gave examples of how cyber criminals have grown more sophisticated in recent months, referring to a growth in Zeus-based automated clearing house (ACH) fraud, the Google hacks, new flavours of DNS cache poisoning and Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) route hijacking.
A poll conducted at the event showed that the majority of attendees were unaware of the examples used by Joffe even though they have been publicised widely in the media.
The spread of Zeus has been occurring since January last year but Joffe, who has written a white paper on the subject that he said is being used by the FBI, warned that the banking Trojan is becoming a more pressing problem every day.
Zeus taps into the ACH network used by businesses and individuals to make electronic transactions. The software is being sold for thousands of pounds in the criminal underground because it allows hackers to harvest banking details from infected computers.
Joffe suggested that, as the ACH network becomes more widely used for online payments and transfers, it will become more of a target for criminals.
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