Magazine article Security Management

Router of Least Resistance. (Tech Talk)

Magazine article Security Management

Router of Least Resistance. (Tech Talk)

Article excerpt

Routers are frequently referred to as the "air traffic controllers" of the Internet. They connect networks by examining the data packets traveling in cyberspace and then guiding the data towards its target on the most efficient route possible. But computer experts are worried that routers are becoming a common vehicle for hackers to launch denial of service (DoS) attacks.

In a recent report, the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT), which is located at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, called the increasing number of router compromises "one of the most recent and disturbing trends" in hacker tactics. One reason for the increasing number of attacks, says Kevin Houle, Internet security analyst with CERT and one of the authors of the report, is that routers are often only minimally monitored and are left unprotected by the security policies that protect computer systems, so intruders can operate with little chance of being noticed.

The targeting of routers is new; Houle says that only a year ago, CERT received no reports of router compromises. "It would appear that there is increased awareness of how to compromise a router," he says. "The knowledge base about compromising and using compromised routers is increasing" on the Internet, he adds.

Compromised routers are being used as locations from which rival groups launch attacks; because they are part of the Internet infrastructure, they tend to be more resilient against retaliation attacks than computer systems. …

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