Re: Should I report hacking attempts? - Server Fault

Lots of people look at their own logs for attacks from the outside. But who regularly reports such attacks back to the source? I'm mainly imagining that happens for attempts that originate from inside the networks of reputable organizations (e.g. from a compromised machine within a university or business or ISP).

How many organizations welcome these kinds of reports and tend to handle them effectively? Is there a way to identify those that do?

What tools exist to help identify such attacks and make such reports?

  • Identifying the sorts of abuse that are useful to report
  • Finding who to report to
  • Including the information that would help the organization track down the origin of the attack and/or who is responsible
  • Dealing with reports that get bounced, or whatever?

See also: Detecting website attack attempts

  • Do you mean someone on the outside reporting to the organization that someone inside is trying to hack something outside the organizations network? – Steve Feb 3 '11 at 17:13

The organisations that have this down to a fine art are the global Security-As-A-Service companies. They are the only players big enough to hook into ISP's, Fortune 350's etc. They also work well with organisations to understand their asset register - helping weed out the attacks that might be real.

If you don't use one of them to manage your perimeter security, the workload to identify attacks at the perimeter needs to be passed off to scripts or devices in the main part - for most organisations there are just too many attempted attacks.

If you can implement a perimeter device to drop basic attacks this should take care of general port scanning. The types of abuse you might detect inbound from that device that aren't useful to report include exploit attempts which don't match your infrastructure (eg Windows attacks against Unix machines), brute force attacks etc.

If an attack comes from a registered corporate you may have luck - eg reporting to HP's abuse contact can get very quick results - as big companies don't want the legal ramifications of dealing with a computer they own being implicated in an attack.

------- so much for the good stuff -------

Finding out who to report to is a major issue. Look up ARIN, RIPE or your regional equivalent - You'll find that the whois records for 'bad guys' are unlikely to be correct and in any case a large number of automated scans and attacks come from compromised home computers or botnets so while you may have a contact at an ISP, they may have no power to do anything. They might have outsourced subnets to other ISP's anyway, or they may just not want to be involved.

From experience, you are much more likely to get action if you are a security person working for a Fortune 350, failing that you must expect bounces or ignored communications. The way round this is often to contact their CEO, CISO or Marketing Director :-)

In terms of information to include - the log and any timestamp offset information are the key items to pass on.

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