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Home > Security > Sixteen Months of Cyber Attacks in Italy

Sixteen Months of Cyber Attacks in Italy


Tomorrow, during the 2012 Security Summit, Edition of Rome, the June Update of the 2012 Italian Report on ICT Security will be unleashed.

I gave a contribution for the section concerning the Cyber Attacks in Italy. The following lines depict a summary of what you will be able to find in the full report (so far only in Italian).

During the period ranging from February 2011 to April 2012, I collected 127 cyber attacks, among which 112, corresponding to the 88% (that is almost the entire sample), driven by hacktivism. In only 15 cases different motivations were found, related to Cyber Crime (14 occurrences) and Cyber Espionage.

The collected sample shows that more than 43% of targets were government sites and political associations. Organizations related to education rank at number three even though most of the attacks were concentrated in a single event in July when as many as 18 universities were affected simultaneously.

Entertainment industry and Law Enforcement Agencies are far behind, but ahead all other categories, probably a consequence of the cyber attacks perpetrated in January and March 2012 during the waves of protests against SOPA and PIPA, (and the subsequent shutdown of MegaUpload). Please notice that not event the Holy See has been safe from hackers with a wave of DDoS attacks targeting several Vatican sites after some controversial declarations of a security vendor.

The trend analysis clearly reflects the influence of external factors on hacktivism in Italy: the first intervention in Libya, then the emotional impact of the collective LulzSec, and finally the protests against the proposed laws considered repressive to freedom of expression on the Internet.

As far as the attack distribution is concerned, Italy has just demonstrated to be a “Spaghetti DDOS” country. On the wake of hacktivism, our country has assisted, in the analyzed period, to a massive wave of Distributed Denial Of Service Attacks. SQL Injection and Defacement attacks are well behind (again remember that most of the SQLi attacks were concentrated on a single event occurring on July). In any case the distribution shows a tendency to perform those kinds of attacks (DDoS and Defacement) capable to gain the most attention from media.

Although the sample may provide an interesting snapshot, please keep in mind that it only includes those attacks that have been detected since the authors claimed them, or simply because the attacks themselves earned plenty of space on media. Given the times we are living in, I’m afraid these are just the tip of the iceberg.

If you want to have an idea of how fragile our data are inside the cyberspace, have a look at the timelines of the main Cyber Attacks in 2011 and 2012 (regularly updated), and follow @paulsparrows on Twitter for the latest updates.

P.S. I did not include in the sample the controversial attack to CNAIPIC (Italian Cyber Police) since the origin of that event is far from being certain.

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