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German telecom company provides real-time map of Cyber attacks

Deutsche Telekom map

In hopes of blunting mounting electronic assaults, a German telecommunications carrier unveiled a free online capability that shows where Cyber attacks are happening around the world in real time.

Deutsche Telekom, parent company of T-Mobile, put up what it calls its “Security dashboard” portal on March  6. The map, said the company, is based on attacks on its purpose-built network of decoy “honeypot” systems at 90 locations worldwide

Deutsche Telekom said it launched the online portal at the CeBIT telecommunications trade show in Hanover, Germany, to increase the visibility of advancing electronic threats.

"New cyber attacks on companies and institutions are found every day. Deutsche Telekom alone records up to 450,000 attacks per day on its honeypot systems and the number is rising. We need greater transparency about the threat situation. With its security radar, Deutsche Telekom is helping to achieve this," said Thomas Kremer, board member responsible for Data Privacy, Legal Affairs and Compliance.

The Web site contains a digital map of the world revealing the origin of cyber attacks recorded around the clock on the company’s sensors, with a real-time ticker that reports which targets attackers have chosen.

In addition, the site shows statistics on the current most common forms of attack and the countries in which the most active attack servers are located. The company said country location, however, might not be the hackers’ country of origin. "Most attacks are automated," explained Kremer. "Figuratively speaking, the attackers shoot into the network with a shotgun to work out where the weaknesses in the systems are."

Deutsche Telekom said it made the portal freely available to security experts and interested parties and it shares its findings with authorities and manufacturers of protection software. The company added that it also uses the information to protect its own systems and warn customers when specific threats arise.

Deutsche Telekom said it developed the online attack situational overview as part of a joint initiative of the industry association BITKOM and the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) that brings together companies and public organizations to provide mutual support in the fight against digital attacks. The company vowed to expand the solution and increase the number of sensors with partner companies to further improve intelligence.

The decoy honey pot systems feign weaknesses  --  like a smartphone with security gaps -- to provoke attacks and as such act as early warning systems. "Our honeypot systems show that once attackers have identified weaknesses, they exploit them immediately," said Kremer. "If, for example, a provider announces an update for its operating system, attackers launch themselves at the old system to find the gap that the update is intended to close." Kremer added, "For this reason, customers should install updates immediately - this successfully prevents 90 percent of attacks." Apart from up-to-date virus protection, that is the most important security precaution for all IT users."