Federal Office of Police

Sixth report on the current information assurance situation by the Reporting and Analysis Centre for Information Assurance

Press Release, fedpol, 09.05.2008

Bern. The human-computer interface as a point of attack, developments in espionage and data theft, and the threats emanating from botnets and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks: These are the topics discussed in the sixth semi-annual report of the Reporting and Analysis Centre for Information Assurance (MELANI). The report assesses the situation in the second half of 2007 and is now available at www.melani.admin.ch.

The human-computer interface is becoming more and more important in the field of information assurance and Internet crime. As more sophisticated technical measures improve the security of computer systems, criminal acts on the Internet are now increasingly targeting users. This is confirmed in the semi-annual report published today by the Reporting and Analysis Centre for Information Assurance (MELANI).

Industrial espionage and data theft

The threat emanating from targeted espionage both against government systems and businesses persists. Here again, the human user is in the crosshairs of the attacker. Detailed research on potential victims facilitates social engineering, the exploitation of the user's good faith. Generally by means of carefully crafted e-mails, the goal is to induce the user to click on a link, thereby triggering the installation of malware that is not recognized by the usual up-to-date anti-virus software. To successfully defend against these attacks, technical measures such as firewalls help, but even more important are the sensitization of computer users and clear guidelines for the use of documents and files.

Greatest threat: Botnets

Attackers are potentially interested in any computer, whether to steal data or information that can be converted into money, or to integrate the computer into a botnet. Botnets are currently the greatest threat on the Internet. These are computers that are remote-controlled and secretly integrated into networks without the knowledge of the user, so that they can be abused for illegal purposes. Such purposes include the distribution of spam, hosting of illegal content, obtaining of information, installation of advertising programmes, and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.

DDoS attacks – also in Switzerland

The goal of DDoS attacks is to attack the victim's computer simultaneously using many different systems, causing it to overload and crash. In the last half year, DDoS attacks have also been observed in Switzerland, and it must be expected that they will occur even more frequently in the future. The technical potential is available, and the spectrum ranges from disrupting Internet transactions of a competitor to classic DDoS blackmail.

You can protect yourself from these threats: through proper conduct on the Internet and protection of your computer with a firewall, regular software updates, and up-to-date anti-virus software.

For more information
Pascal Lamia, Federal Strategy Unit for IT (FSUIT), Director of the Reporting and Analysis Centre for Information Assurance (MELANI), T +41 31 31 323 45 06