Why Cyber Attacks Are So Difficult to Trace Back to Hackers

Sony, Google, RSA and now Citigroup are just some of the prominent victims of cyber attacks as defenses at large organizations prove porous and attackers elude detection

Larry Greenemeier 

security, Internet PHISH AND CHIPS: Cyber attackers are known to break into poorly secured computers and use those hijacked systems as proxies through which they can launch and route attacks worldwide. Image: COURTESY OF ERWO1 VIA ISTOCKPHOTO.COM

Cyber attacks may not be a new phenomenon but the recent successes scored against high-profile targets including CitiGroup, Google, RSA and government contractors such as Lockheed Martin underscore the targets’ current failure to block security threats enabled by the Internet. Malicious hackers use the very same technology that enables online banking, entertainment and myriad other communication services to attack these very applications, steal user data, and then cover their own tracks.
One common practice that attackers employ to evade detection is to break into poorly secured computers and use those hijacked systems as proxies through which they can launch and route attacks worldwide. Although such attacks are an international problem, there is no international response, which frustrates local law enforcement seeking cooperation from countries where these proxy servers typically reside.

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