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Report: DDoS Attacks Have Slowed, But Increased in Size

4 minute read
Kaya Ismail avatar

DDoS Attacks are nothing new. In fact, hackers have been maliciously flooding servers since 1999.

But in October 2016, distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks suddenly became far more relevant to the everyday web surfer, after Dyn — one of the world’s leading DNS providers — suffered the largest DDoS attack in history.

The fallout was huge, with the western world’s most popular apps and websites brought down, including the likes of Amazon, PayPal, Twitter, Netflix and Reddit.

And yet, new research from Sterling, Va.-based Neustar, a provider of information and security services, indicates that attackers are, “seeking to wreak more havoc and damage than what was experienced in 2016.”

While Neustar clearly has a horse in this race, its findings point to some interesting — and disturbing — trends.

Recent DDoS Attack Trends

According to Neustar’s fourth annual Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) and Cyber Security Insights report, the first quarter of the year was a quieter period for DDoS attacks when compared to the equivalent period in 2016.

Neustar DDoS year over year comparison 2016 to 2017

But don’t let the graph fool you. DDoS attacks may have decreased in frequency, but Neustar insists that the average size of an attack is now notably larger.

DDoS Mitigation

So far in 2017, 45 percent of DDoS attacks were more than 10 gigabits per second (Gbps) and 15 percent of attacks were at least 50 Gbps — almost double the number reported last year.

Learning Opportunities

Further to an increase in size, DDoS attacks are also taking more complex forms, including multi-vector attacks, Generic Routing Encapsulation (GRE) based flood attacks and Connectionless Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (CLDAP) attacks. 

As you might imagine, this diversification of DDoS attack methods is adding layers of complexity to the battle against attackers and their botnets.

Neustar’s conclusion is blunt: With clear increases in speed, size and complexity, we’re looking at a “determined adversarial community seeking to wreak more havoc and damage than what was experienced in 2016.”

The Brutal Impact of a DDoS Attack

Alongside size, frequency and potency, Neustar also looked into the impact of an average DDoS attack on an organization.

It partnered with Harris Interactive and reached out to 1,010 directors, managers, CISOs, CSOs, CTOs and other executives to find out how DDoS attacks affect their organizations. The respondents span many industries, including technology, financial services, retail, healthcare and energy. Nearly half of the organizations reported annual revenues from $500 million to $1 billion per year.

Here are the most insightful statistics taken from the report:

  • Revenue Loss: 43 percent of organizations report average revenue loss of at least $250,000 per hour, with 51 percent taking at least three hours to detect an attack and 40 percent taking at least three hours to respond
  • Data Theft: 51 percent of attacks involved some sort of loss or theft with a 38 percent increase year over year in customer data, financial and intellectual property theft
  • Customer Impact: 40 percent of respondents reported receiving attack alerts from customers, up from 29 percent in 2016
  • Indiscriminate Aggression: 849 out of 1,010 organizations were attacked, with no particular industry spared, an increase of 15 percent since 2016. Seven hundred twenty-seven — or 85 percent of those attacked — were hit more than once.

'DDoS Season' Is Coming

Based on four years of research, Neustar asserts that, generally speaking, the fourth quarter of the year is “DDoS season,” which with the heightened traffic and customer expectations of the holidays makes sense. As we move through the second quarter, it might be a good idea to look over your overall security strategy.

While its own research shows that 99 percent of organizations have some sort of DDoS protection in place, no company wants to receive the customer calls asking why your website is down.

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