Feeds

Nine-ball attack splits security researchers

Ruck over whether figures stack up

Security for virtualized datacentres

Security researchers are split over the seriousness of a web attack dubbed "Nine-ball" which broke onto the internet last week.

Websense last week reported a web attack dubbed "Nine-ball", a moniker derived from the name of ninetorag.in, one of the malware hosts associated with the assault, had claimed 40,000 website victims.

Web security services firm ScanSafe, by contrast, describes the attack as "almost non-existent".

Mary Landesman, senior security researcher at ScanSafe, reckons that from 15 June the total number of requests to sites involved in the attacks came to just 333. The total number of compromised websites observed over the last week was just 62 of which only one domain - skyscrapercity.com - features above the top 10,000 traffic spot in Alexa's traffic ratings.

"We were a bit surprised that such an allegedly massive attack could bypass our sentries," Landesman said. "After we did take a look, it became apparent why this one didn't trip our alert sensors - this attack is almost non-existent and might be more aptly named 'scratch ball'.

"It is such a low number attack that it’s not the type of thing we’d normally spend our time investigating."

ScanSafe claims its real-time web scanning gives it a grandstand view of malfeasance on the web while Websense is equally adamant that it has the clearest possible view of malware on the net, and a mite indignant over ScanSafe's suggestion that it's exaggerating the impact of the Nine-ball attack.

Websense updated its original analysis on Monday, after we passed on ScanSafe's observations, reiterating that Nine-ball (although slightly decreased in intensity) remains a potent force. This more detailed analysis includes videos and diagrams illustrating the attack, which has evolved since it was first detected on 2 June.

Carl Leonard, security research manager for Websense EMEA, suggested that if ScanSafe reckoned that the attack was insignificant then it must be missing the bigger picture.

"The Nine-Ball attack was more complicated than most which made it difficult for less experienced researchers to understand its complexities," Leonard told El Reg.

"A confusing factor is that there is not one clear infection path. With no fixed start point, no set route and no fixed end point, linking a series together and appreciating that it’s all part of the same campaign is not an easy thing to do, especially when the attack has more than one malicious host involved.

"Most security companies lack the technology to analyze such attacks. Because Websense has such an extensive Threatseeker network we can see the bigger picture when some other companies may only see a part." ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
NASTY SSL 3.0 vuln to be revealed soon – sources (Update: It's POODLE)
So nasty no one's even whispering until patch is out
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
Forget passwords, let's use SELFIES, says Obama's cyber tsar
Michael Daniel wants to kill passwords dead
FBI boss: We don't want a backdoor, we want the front door to phones
Claims it's what the Founding Fathers would have wanted – catching killers and pedos
Kill off SSL 3.0 NOW: HTTPS savaged by vicious POODLE
Pull it out ASAP, it is SWISS CHEESE
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.