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The use of automation is on the rise across the industry, but it is also in full use with the bad guys, a new report said.

Attackers are increasing the use of automation to boost the scale and speed of attacks designed to compromise users and steal sensitive data, said researchers at Imperva.

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Every application analyzed in the report ended up attacked, with over 75 percent of the applications hit by every one of the eight identified attack types, which were SQL injection (SQLi), remote file inclusion (RFI), remote code execution (RCE), directory traversal (DT), cross site scripting (XSS), spam, file upload (FU), and HTTP reconnaissance.

Applications suffered a marked increase in the number of SQLi and XSS attacks, the report said.

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This year also saw hackers shift emphasis to attacking healthcare applications, likely reflecting the black market value of the personally identifiable information contained within healthcare applications, the report said.

The data also highlights an increase in the percentage of attacks successfully identified and blocked by reputation services, further validating that already identified and known hackers use automation to more effectively and efficiently launch attacks against a broad set of targets.

“This year’s report illustrates that any and every web application may come under attack by cyber criminals, due in large part to the fact that hackers have industrialized – making broad attacks possible – the techniques used to gain access to valuable personally identifiable information,” said Amichai Shulman, CTO of Imperva. “As a result, every web application is at risk. Businesses must pay particular attention to directly protecting data and applications by using security measures like a web application firewall, ideally in conjunction with real-time reputation services.”

All applications are under increased attacks, including Shellshock attacks launched blindly against any and every public facing application.
• Shellshock attacks ended up recorded on 100 percent of the applications under analysis.
• Applications suffered a three times year-over-year increase in SQLi attacks. Successful SQLi attacks allow attackers to access secrete data.
• Applications suffered a 2.5 times year-over-year increase in XSS attacks. XSS attacks frequently see use by cyber criminals to compromise users.

Detect-by-reputation mechanisms have become increasingly effective against attacks.
• 78 percent of the malicious alerts ended up identified by Imperva ThreatRadar Reputation Services as coming from known bad actors.

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