Attack traffic from China takes a great leap forward

Cyberattack traffic originating in China took a sharp jump in late 2012, according to the latest analysis of activity on Akamai’s global content delivery network.

Chinese law prohibits hacking and the Chinese military does not engage in online sabotage and espionage, according to official statements by the Chinese government.

But somebody in China is doing a lot of hacking. Attack traffic from Chinese addresses jumped sharply during the third quarter of 2012, accounting for a full third of attacks identified on Akamai’s global content delivery network, which delivers online resources for many federal agencies.

The figures were released several days before the New York Times reported  that it was the victim of a sophisticated long-term effort by Chinese hackers to gain access to reporters’ information and credentials. It said the attacks were part of a broad online espionage program targeting western journalists dating back to at least 2008.

Chinese officials characterized the accusations of involvement in the Times attacks, first noted in October, shortly after the time covered in the Akamai report, as “groundless” and “irresponsible.”

There are limitations to what analysis of attack traffic can tell about the attackers.

“We don’t have end-to-end visibility,” said David Belson, editor of the Akamai report. “We only know the IP address making the connection to us. But many of our statistics are nominally in line with data gathered by others.”

Because it is easy to cross national boundaries on the Internet and acquire — legally or illegally — the resources of servers and computers in other countries, the connecting IP address does not necessarily show the actual location of the attacker. But other research has found that, along with the high amount of malicious traffic originating in China, there is evidence that a lot of malicious code also originated in that country. The Times investigation found that the pattern of attacks matched others that had been traced to China.

Akamai’s data is culled from traffic on its network, which delivers a large percentage of the world’s Internet traffic (averaging nearly 21 million HTTP hits per second on Jan. 31). Many agencies use the network to deliver content efficiently, rather than maintain bandwidth needed to support spikes in demand. The distributed system of servers also provides additional security against denial of service attacks.

The jump in malicious Chinese traffic was unexpected, Belson said, although China historically has been the top source, and the overall rankings of top 10 source countries remained unchanged from the previous listing. The United States is the No. 2 source of attack traffic, with its share inching up from 12 percent in the second quarter of 2012 to 13 percent in the third. But over the same time, China spiked from 16 percent to 33 percent.

“That definitely is surprising,” Belson said.

The number of countries observed generating attack traffic dropped from 188 the previous quarter to 180 in the third quarter of last year. At the same time, the attacks became more varied in the ports they are targeting. In the first quarter of 2012 the top 10 ports accounted for 77 percent of attacks, but dropped to 62 percent in the second quarter and to 59 percent in the third.

The most commonly attacked ports are 445, for Microsoft Directory Services (30 percent of observed traffic) and 23, for Telnet (about 8 percent). The good news is these attacks can be addressed by firewall configuration. “An organization should not have these ports open to outside connections,” Belson said.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.