Security Magazine

Report Says Web Application Attacks a Security Threat in Data Centers and Cloud Environments

March 26, 2013

Findings from the latest Alert Logic State of Cloud Security Report highlight that Web application attacks are the most significant security threat for IT infrastructures. Alert Logic, the leading provider of Security-as-a-Servicesolutions for the cloud, regularly updates the research report based on a comparative analysis of security threats across thousands of Alert Logic customers with infrastructures in either enterprise data centers or the cloud environments of more than 20 hosting providers.

During the six-month study period, Alert Logic found that 48 percent of customers were impacted by verified Web application attacks across all customer environments. Web application attacks impacted more than half (52 percent) of the cloud hosting provider environments in the study, while 39 percent of enterprise environments experienced such attacks.

"The data confirms what we suspected. Web application attacks continue to be a serious threat across all environments," said Stephen Coty, director, Security Research with Alert Logic. "These types of threats are easily launched through automated tools and should be a top concern for any organization that is serious about security."

Key findings from the Alert Logic State of Cloud Security Report – Spring 2013:

  • The cloud is not inherently less safe. Among the six security incident categories examined, Web application attack was the only threat category more prevalent in cloud hosting provider environments than in enterprise environments. The frequency of attacks experienced by enterprise data centers was higher across the board than cloud hosting provider environments. The frequency of reconnaissance attacks was nearly 10 times higher in enterprise environments than observed in cloud environments. Data center environments experienced malware/botnet attacks nearly three times more frequently compared to the cloud. 
  • Different IT environments face different threats. Attacks in enterprise data centers tend to be more sophisticated and targeted, versus cloud hosting provider environments, which experience more opportunistic threat activity. Nearly half (49 percent) of enterprise environments in the study experienced verified malware/botnet activity, compared to just five percent of cloud hosting provider environments.
  • Cloud hosting provider environments typically face a narrower range of threats. The study found that customers using enterprise data center environments experienced an average of 2.5 types of incidents, whilethose using cloud hosting provider environments experienced an average of 1.8 incident types.

During the study period between April 1 and September 30, 2012, Alert Logic observed more than one billion security events and verified more than 45,000 security incidents asvalid threats. The Alert Logic State of Cloud Security Report - Spring 2013 evaluated three vectors of analysis – incident occurrence, incident frequency and threat diversity – across six security incident categories.

A free download of the report is available at http://www.alertlogic.com/csr