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DDoS, which stands for Distributed Denial of Service, is a type of cyberattack that attempts to make an online service unavailable by overwhelming it with traffic from multiple sources. Because the incoming traffic flooding the victim originates from a variety of different sources, it’s impossible to stop the attack simply by blocking a single source. Attackers using this method target a wide variety of important resources, from banks to news websites, and present a major challenge to individuals accessing important information.
DDoS attacks have been used with a high level of success in the past and continue to pose a real threat to unprepared businesses due to their ability to cause service downtime, which results in lost business and a decrease in customer confidence. It is expected that the capacity of DDoS attacks is going to increase, and with increased capacity there will be an increase in profitability, attracting more threat actors to this method. Considering this, all industries should be prepared for a DDoS attack.
The increased ability of DDoS attacks to cause damage to businesses has seen an unprecedented increase over the last decade. In 2008 the average attack size was only 24 gigabytes per second; today that number has risen to 800 gigabytes per second. There have also been significant advances in various forms of DDoS attacks in three main categories: Volume based attacks that saturate a websites bandwidth; Protocol based attacks that overload server resources and; Application Layer attacks that use legitimate requests to overload web servers.
There are two threat actor types primarily known to employ DDoS attacks: financially motivated criminals and politically motivated threat actors. Realistically, any organization that requires an online presence to deliver its service is at risk of being targeted and held at ransom via DDoS. In these cases, the attack continues until the ransom is paid. Organizations that openly support or display controversial political content may be targeted by either hacktivists or Nationstate actors. Today, there is an increasing trend in attacks against political, financial and gaming industries.
There are various forms of mitigation for DDoS attacks based on the method used. Application Layer attacks can generally be mitigated with patching and properly configuring a Web Application Firewall. Volume and Protocol based attacks can be mitigated with PGP or DNS routing solutions. For best results, we recommend a hybrid solution that combines both techniques.
Our 2017 Q3 Threat Report found an overall decline in Threat Mass when compared to Q2 of this year. Interestingly enough however, availability attacks (including DDoS), were the only attack category to see an increase in Q3. This observation demonstrates the resilience of this method as a successful form of cyber-attack, and makes the need for DDoS preparedness of increasing importance.
It’s important to recognize that both methods of attack as well as who is targeted are always changing. As a result, preparation against these attacks requires constant monitoring to properly deploy prevention and mitigation tactics. Over the last four months, easily automated attacks with a low base cost (such as DDoS attacks) have maintained a fairly steady rate of use. On the other hand, more technically complicated and expensive attacks, such as malicious code and reputation blocks, are decreasing. Currently, the top three most targeted industries are Accounting Services, Biopharma and Retail. Threat actors are most likely targeting these industries for financial gain and theft of intellectual property.
Today’s cyber-attackers are increasingly innovating, and the threat landscape is constantly changing. Many organizations lack the resources and security measures needed to protect themselves. We’re here to help. With Managed Detection and Response, we can monitor operations when you can’t do it all.