IT security professionals view “hacktivism” as simply an extension of current threats and highlight the importance of network and application security


January 2011

The road to downtime may, in fact, be paved with the best intentions but for IT security professionals, hacktivism is technologically simply an extension of current threats that highlights the importance of network and application security.

F5 recently assembled a group of IT security professionals to examine the well-publicized WikiLeaks attacks of late 2010 and discuss the perceptions of similar threats within the IT industry. In a detailed findings report pdf-icon, the focus group concluded that the DDoS attacks used by hackers did not represent a new kind of threat, and that in many cases these attacks would be indistinguishable from other types of malicious traffic.

The group did acknowledge some novel aspects of the WikiLeaks attacks, however. Most notably, this was the first known large-scale attack to involve voluntary participation. Instead of having to rely on the exploitation of vulnerable machines to create a botnet, many people willingly turned over control of their machines to hackers. With this approach, hackers can access a given machine’s full resources without needing to worry about being detected, meaning fewer machines are able to orchestrate larger attacks. The other significant aspect of these attacks, according to the focus group participants, was the act of hacking out of a sense of moral outrage rather than monetary gain.

The security experts also emphasized the importance of properly applying foundational security principles to manage emerging threats. By working with ISPs to detect and filter malicious traffic, organizations and their networks will have less risk of downtime in the event of a DDoS attack. This also frees IT personnel and resources that can be applied to strengthening security practices and focusing on threats aimed at both the network and applications.

The full report can be downloaded compliments of F5 here pdf-icon .


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