Russia launched over a million cyber attacks in three months

Abstract silhouette of a computer hacker in front of a Russian flag
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Over a million network attacks originated from Russia from November 2020 to January 2021, according to a new report.

Unit 42 security researchers looked at network attack trends from last winter and found that 1.3 million seemed to originate from Russia. The US and China were numbers two and three, respectively.

The researchers looked at over six million potential attacks caused by network traffic triggers. Of those, researchers classified 3.47 million as true attacks. Of all the attacks observed, researchers classified 75% as critical. That’s a sizable jump compared to the 50.4% classified as critical in the fall of 2020.

The most popular form of attack was code execution, accounting for 46.6% of all attacks. Code execution and privilege escalation represented 17.3% of attacks, and 9.9% of attacks were SQL injection.

Over the three months, the most exploited vulnerabilities targeted vendors Linksys, D-Link, ThinkPHP, Drupal, and WordPress.

Several newly observed exploits emerged, including CVE-2020-28188, CVE-2020-17519, and CVE-2020-29227, and hackers continuously exploited them in the wild as of late 2020 to early 2021.

The researchers found hackers frequently used vulnerabilities disclosed within the past year and exploited them between 2017 and 2020. They added that this highlighted the importance of applying security patches as soon as they become available to protect against the most recently discovered vulnerabilities.

One such flaw noted in the report was CVE-2020-28188. Researchers said TerraMaster Operating System’s PHP page /include/makecvs.php is vulnerable to a command injection vulnerability. In this vulnerability, an attacker can send a payload that will exploit the event parameter in the makecvs PHP page. After successful exploitation, attackers can take full control of servers.

Another flaw mentioned was CVE-2020-17519. This vulnerability is due to a lack of proper checks on a user-supplied file path in Apache.


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Flink's class. A remote unauthenticated attacker can easily craft and send a directory traversal request, gaining access to sensitive information in the form of arbitrary files, said the researchers.

Researchers said that the data during the three-month period indicated attackers prioritize easily deployed and newly disclosed exploits.

“While they keep ready-made, weaponized exploits handy, attackers will continuously enrich their arsenal with newly released vulnerabilities and the associated proofs-of-concept. This underscores the need for organizations to patch and implement best security practices regularly,” said researchers.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.