CERT: Security incidents up sharply this year

Internet security incidents for the first half of 2002 are up sharply on 2001 and are on track to exceed last year's figures...

Internet security incidents for the first half of 2002 are up sharply on 2001 and are on track to exceed last year's figures substantially, according to statistics released this week by the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) Co-ordination Centre.

This increase, however, may be because of better reporting and awareness, rather than an increase in attack activity, according to the CERT Co-ordination Centre (CERT/CC).

The CERT/CC is a US government-funded computer and network security research organisation that tracks security incidents and software vulnerabilities and is based at Carnegie Mellon University.

CERT/CC co-ordinates the disclosure and response to some security vulnerabilities, attempting to ensure that vendors have fixes or patches for vulnerabilities ready before those flaws are disclosed to the public.

For the first half of this year, CERT/CC reported that it logged 43,136 security incidents. The group defines a security incident as any related set of security events. 2001 saw 52,658 security incidents for the entire year.

The number of security vulnerabilities, holes in software that could lead to attack, reported by CERT/CC is also up. So far this year, 2,148 such vulnerabilities have been disclosed, almost equalling the 2,437 announced in all of 2001. There were 1,090 vulnerabilities reported by CERT/CC in 2000.

The largest factor in this rise is that more people are reporting incidents and that more users have a better awareness of what constitutes a security incident, according to Chad Dougherty, Internet security analyst at CERT/CC.

The growth of Internet use also accounts for some of the increase, he said. Despite more users reporting to CERT/CC, the group still is not getting all the available information.

"It's still a serious problem and people still need to be aware of the issues involved with connecting a system to the Internet," Dougherty said.

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