Cyber attacks on US federal networks on the rise

The number of cyber attacks against federal government systems and networks has increased nearly 40 percent, says in the annual report on federal cybersecurity efforts compiled by the Office of Management Budget.

The concrete number of attacks suffered in 2010 is 41,776, which is a marked increase from the 30,000 attacks executed in 2009. The statistic has been provided by the US-CERT, and a breakdown of the number according to type of attack goes like this:

  • Malicious code – 12,864 (31%)
  • Under investigation or labeled as “other – 11,336 (27%)
  • Denial of service, unauthorized and/or attempted access, improper usage and scans probes, etc. – 17,576 (42%).

“DHS anticipates that malicious cyber activity will continue to become more common, more sophisticated and more targeted — and range from unsophisticated hackers to very technically competent intruders using state-of-the-art techniques,” said DHS spokesman Chris Ortman.

According to the Federal Times, US-CERT has pointed out that the attackers often try to leverage zero-day vulnerabilities in various apps and products to gain access to federal networks.

Most government agencies could and should do a better job when it comes to protecting their networks. Shockingly, 8 percent of the agencies still doesn’t have an around-the-clock program for monitoring intrusions. And among those that do, the continuity of monitoring leaves much to be desired.