Cross-site scripting attacks up 160%
Posted on 29 January 2013.
Each quarter, FireHost reports on the Superfecta – a group of four cyberattacks that are the most dangerous – and warns that both Cross-Site Scripting and SQL Injection attacks have become even more prevalent since the third quarter of 2012.

The four attack types which make up the Superfecta, and which pose the most serious threat to the private information hosted in your database are Cross-site Scripting (XSS), Directory Traversal, SQL Injection, and Cross-site Request Forgery (CSRF).

Three out of the four Superfecta attack types rose in total count between Q3 and Q4 2012 – only Cross-site Request Forgery attacks saw a drop in volume. However, the large increase in Cross-Site Scripting attacks, which rose from just over one million in Q3 2012 to 2.6 million in Q4 – an increase of more than 160 percent, seemingly dwarfs the other three attack types with 57% of the Superfecta.

Trends among the Superfecta attack techniques are demonstrated between Q4 and Q3 2012:


“The change in frequency of the types of attack between quarters gives you an idea of how cybercriminals are constantly working to identify the path of least resistance,” said Chris Hinkley, Senior Security Engineer at FireHost.

“During Q4, ecommerce sites in particular would have been very busy with Christmas sales. Hackers will rapidly go after these high value targets with attacks that are highly automated and, if they are not yielding useful payloads, the attackers are equipped to quickly try a different type of attack. This is why it is important to have an understanding of the kind of traffic that is accessing your hosted infrastructure, so that you can make sure that malicious traffic is diverted and that there is less risk to sensitive data,” he added.

Throughout the whole year, FireHost has blocked over 64 million malicious cyberattacks of all types, with Cross-Site Scripting being the most prolific Superfecta attack type overall, clocking in at 5.4 million blocked attacks.


As in Q3 2012, Europe is still the second most likely origin point for malicious traffic blocked by FireHost after North America, being the source of 13 percent of attacks.

Other regions have seen marked increases in the amount of attacks that are emanating from them, including Africa, Australia, and the Middle East. South and Central America were both the source of less malicious traffic between the most recent quarters.

The risks to businesses from the Superfecta varies and depends upon the kind of data that could be stolen in the event of a successful attack, according to Todd Gleason, Director of Technology at FireHost, “Itʼs fairly obvious that, if you are retailer or service provider dealing with private customer data or payment card details, your business will present an attractive target for hackers. That being said, we also see attacks that have the potential to simply deface or interfere with and disrupt websites and applications. Even though no data is lost, the reputation of a company can still be seriously damaged.”





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