Threat grows from browser-based attacks

Browser-based attacks are the fastest growing corporate security threat, a CompTIA survey has found.

IT security officers have a growing problem on their hands -- browser-based attacks such as "pharming" scams rose significantly for the third straight year, making them the fastest growing security threat, according to a study by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), a nonprofit trade organization based in Chicago.

The Web-based survey contacted officers with security responsibilities, such as network administrators or chief information officers, from nearly 500 companies in sectors such as finance, education, government and manufacturing. It found that 56.6 percent of the companies had been victimized by a browser-based attack in the past year, up from 36.8 percent a year ago and 25 percent two years ago.

The drastic increase in incidents suggests that the browser-based attack is beginning to rival virus and worm attacks as a threat to companies' security. The number of virus and worm attacks fell 2 percent over the last year, to exactly two thirds.

Browser-based attacks use a browser system to disrupt a computer's data processing capabilities, said CompTIA spokesman Stephen Ostrowski.

"Pharming" is an example of a browser-based attack and occurs when a user types in a legitimate Web address and instead is redirected to a fraudulent page. Sometimes users are hooked into these schemes through fake e-mail messages, a technique known as phishing. These attacks unleash unwanted software and malicious code on the user's computer.

"The result of such an attack could be [as trivial as] having to reboot but could be as serious as identity theft or loss of data," Ostrowski said.

The incidence of phishing attacks alone increased from 18 percent a year ago to a quarter of the companies surveyed this year.

Companies are taking various steps to prevent all types of security attacks. Though the vast majority of companies have invested heavily in protective hardware and software such as antivirus programs, the real security challenge lies in properly training employees.

"[Our studies] showed that human error either alone or in combination with technology is responsible for about four out of five security breaches," Ostrowski said. "It is very important for these organizations to develop security policies and make sure that these policies are disseminated from the top down, because anybody [can create] a potential security threat."

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Peter Saalfield

IDG News Service
Show Comments



Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >

Victorinox Werks Professional Executive 17 Laptop Case

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?