Warning! DDOS attacks are a growing threat

02-08-2018

How can you protect yourself against new DDOS attacks? Basefarm’s Senior Vice President of Quality and Security, Esten Hoel, gives us an answer.

Distributed Denial of Service (DOS) attacks are one of the most serious threats to companies and organizations today. They are bigger, more common and more sophisticated than ever before. Companies need to consider these new risks now, rather than when they’ve already been affected by them.

DDOS has a history of being one of the most popular tools for cybercriminals and hackers. During the past couple of decades, the tool has grown and developed into something quite sophisticated. Due to this new level of sophistication, attackers are able to attain a higher capacity at a lower cost, meaning they can afford to make their attacks bigger. Although different sources report various growth numbers, we can expect to see a 20-30% rise in attacks this year, in comparison to last year.

Hackers, or hacktivists as they’re sometimes called, use DDOS as their preferred weapon of choice. Now, however, even criminals are using the tool for extortion of victims. While under attack, it’s easy to feel desperate, but you should never pay an attacker. It just makes them see you as a resource, triggering them to do the same again. Repeated attacks against the same target are the norm. 

DDOS is just one of many cyber-attacks that companies need to be aware of and prepare against. However, this is often easier said than done since DDOS is often used in combination with other attacks. An example of this is the Carphone Warehouse attack, where they were subjected to something they thought was a DDOS. While the security department was busy mending the suspected breach, the criminals could break into their systems and steal personal banking data from 2.3 million customers.

The attackers are becoming more sophisticated…

The DDOS tools have become readily accessible and even available at different hacker forums. An example of a tool that has been spread through forums is LizardStresser, a bot net utility. It has infected thousands of internet-connected devices, like CCTV cameras. This leads us be believe that devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) may be the next major target for these attacks. Another popular goal is cloud-based services. Rest (un)assured that the DDOS attacks will increase and take new shapes and forms.

In addition to major attacks, we’ve seen more attacks on network storages as well as threats towards programs and applications. Multivariate attacks are becoming more and more common, meaning that an attack on network components is combined with attacks on the main program. It is one of the biggest threats we face today. Firewalls continue to disappoint: the average downtime during an attack is 17 hours. This entails crashes, failed data capacity and your customers being denied access to your systems. 17 hours is a lifetime in today’s business world.

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… is your protection also becoming more sophisticated?

There are different types of technologies and services to alleviate the effects of DDOS attacks, but they’re usually only efficient towards one type of attack. In order to stop a multi-sector attack, you will need more than one anti-DDOS service.

You can install systems to protect against DDOS internally, which could work for stopping attacks against programs. But an internal system will never be able to defend itself against the attack when the hacker increases the volume to a level that the entire internet connection is contaminated.

Multiple layers of protection is the best solution. This means that your Internet Service Provider (ISP), or other cloud vendors that can direct all web traffic through themselves, should clear the data stream from high volume DDOS traffic. By doing this, you can handle the remaining volume and the internal DDOS protection system can handle the more sophisticated constraint.

I highly recommend everyone to contact your operations and service providers, if you haven’t already. You can always contact me, Esten Hoel, or our Security Incident Response Team (SIRT) for advice on how to best protect yourself from hackers.

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