Cyber Attacks Jump Dramatically

Cyber attacks have increased by almost 80 percent over the last six months according to new research by Riptech, Inc. The managed security services firm says its report is the first to present cyber attack trends based on the empirical analysis of actual cyber attacks detected against a global sample of security devices.

The sample set from which the attack trends in this report were derived consists of more than 300 companies in more than 25 countries throughout the world. Combined, the security devices of these organizations protect more than one million Internet-connected hosts. The Internet Security Threat Report quantifies the intensity, severity, and geographic sources of cyber attacks.

According to the Alexandria, Va.-based Riptech, never before has information security attack trend data been available to the public broken down by company characteristics, such as industry and company size.

Key observations from the report include:

  • The rate of attack activity has increased substantially — attacks per company increased by 79 percent between July and December 2001
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  • A substantial percent of attacks (39 percent) appeared to be deliberately targeted at a specific organization
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  • A small number of nations were the source of the vast majority of the attacks: U.S. (30 percent), South Korea (9 percent), China (8 percent)
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  • Adjusting for the number of Internet users in each country, the intensity of attacks from Israel is nearly double the attack intensity rate of any other individual country
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    Different industries suffer significantly different rates of attack intensity and severity. High tech, financial services, media/entertainment, and power and energy showed the highest number of attacks per company, each averaging more than 700 attacks per company over the past six months


  • Power and energy companies suffered severe attacks at a rate that was more than twice the mean of all companies in the sample set
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  • Attack intensity and intent varied moderately based on company size and significantly based on ownership type. Companies with 500 or more employees suffered at least 50 percent more attacks per company than companies with less than 500 employees. Public companies suffered approximately twice the number of attacks per company as private and nonprofit companies
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    “Information security has emerged as a strategic concern for corporate decision makers,” said Amit Yoran, president and chief executive officer of Riptech. “The release of the Internet Security Threat Report marks the first time that corporate decision makers have access to the factual information they need to assess and mitigate the risk of cyber attack.”

    This issue of the report analyzes attack activity that occurred during the final six months of 2001. Riptech will release an updated version of the Internet Security Threat Report on a semi-annual basis.

    Prior to the development of this report, other attempts to summarize network attack trends have relied on survey data. The accuracy of these other reports is limited by inconsistent attack detection capabilities and the inherent problems of self-reporting security data. The Internet Security Threat Report is based on statistical analysis of more than 5.5 million discreet data points, in which over 128,000 unique cyber-attacks were discovered, analyzed, and investigated.

    Riptech provides management, monitoring, analysis, and response against suspicious activities detected across firewalls, VPNs, and intrusion detection systems (IDS). By correlating and analyzing vast amounts of security data through its proprietary Caltarian technology platform, Riptech’s security operations center (SOC) analysts identify and defend against potential intrusions or other malicious activity.

    Additionally, Riptech’s Security Professional Services group provides security policy development, assessment and auditing, penetration testing, incident forensics, and response. Founded in 1998 by former Department of Defense security professionals and market experts, Riptech also has offices in San Jose, Calif., and New York City.

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