Top Ten Internet Threats
SC Magazine - January 2001
by Katherine Henry 

Here is a round-up of the top ten threats in the U.S., U.K. and Asia
Pacific region. It’s worth remembering that Internet security solutions
are also improving to keep up to date with the threats. Notable among
these are trusted operating system (TOS) solutions that can prevent
most, if not all, of the threats listed below.

Super-user vulnerabilities: The goal of most ‘hacks’ is to gain
super-user control (or Windows Administrator control). Super-user
is all-powerful and can disable security applications, such as
intrusion detection systems or firewalls. 

Disgruntled employees: Since they are ‘authorized’ users,
disgruntled employees can perform sensitive operations from within
your security perimeter. They can take down system resources,
alter data content and install backdoors for later use. 

Buffer overflows: These are a common vulnerability and new
ways to exploit them are discovered by hackers on a regular basis.
Buffer overflows can be used to gain super-user control. 

Kernel attacks/loadable kernel modules: These are a more
sophisticated form of attack that allow hackers to corrupt or
replace programs in the operating system kernel itself to cause
severe system damage. 

Application security flaws: Given the speed to market of
e-business software, programs frequently have bugs, many of
which can be exploited to gain access to other applications or the
system as a whole. 

CGI-script exploits: CGI script implementation often has bugs
and frequently introduces security holes that can be used to
attack web servers. 

Password sniffing: Hackers often use this method to guess a
legitimate user’s password in order to gain access to the system
and to gain greater access for future attacks. 

Human error: Corporations rely upon good security practice
among their employees to safeguard systems. It is not uncommon
for hackers to engage in myriad social engineering activities, such
as posing as members of the IT department or partner companies’
IT departments, to gain passwords or access to computers that
can later be used for theft or damage. 

Virus/trojan horse: These are surreptitiously installed programs
specifically designed to cause damage or to open up holes so that
attackers may gain system entry at a later date. 

Denial of service: The DoS attack deliberately floods a server
with false requests to shut down or slow down traffic to that
server. It is most frequently launched from other powerful
computers that have been hacked (known as zombie machines),
and have had programs installed on them to create these false

Katherine Henry is marketing communications manager for Argus
Systems Group Ltd. in the U.K.