Dissecting the unpredictable DDoS landscape

DDoS attacks are now more unpredictable and damaging than ever, crippling websites, shutting down operations, and costing millions of dollars in downtime, customer support and brand damage, according to Neustar.

Nearly twice as many businesses surveyed suffered a DDoS attack last year and more than 40 percent estimated DDoS losses at more than $1 million per day.

Other key findings include a growing trend toward quicker, more concentrated attacks, suggesting a spurt in “smokescreening” – where criminals use DDoS attacks to distract IT staff while inserting malware to breach bank accounts and customer data. In fact, 49 percent of businesses who suffered a DDoS attack and a breach in 2013 reported that a virus or malware was installed or activated and 55 percent of DDoS targets reported that they were also victims of theft. Attackers stole funds, customer data and intellectual property.

“DDoS attacks create an “all hands on deck’ mentality, and the potential for damage is high as criminals take advantage of the distraction to grab and clone private data to tap into funds, intellectual property and more,” said Rodney Joffe, senior vice president and senior technologist at Neustar.

“Businesses should look out for shorter, more intense attacks without the traditionally expected extortion or policy demands. It is critical that they protect themselves by dedicating staff to watch entry systems during attacks, making sure everything is patched and having dedicated DDoS protection,” Joffe added.

Additional insights include:

  • Almost 90 percent of companies attacked were hit repeatedly
  • Larger attacks almost tripled. The number of attacks between 1-5 Gbps in size grew by 150 percent
  • DDoS attacks are consuming more manpower. Attacks requiring more than 10 people to put out the fire more than doubled compared to 2012
  • The costs of DDoS attacks were not only higher, but were felt more widely across the enterprise. Non-IT/security departments absorbed more than 50 percent of attack-related costs and customer support felt the impact most acutely at 63 percent of companies
  • There are now very few companies (under five percent) with no DDoS protection in place. Of the vast majority with protection, most still use traditional solutions like firewalls, switches and routers.

Neustar surveyed nearly 450 North American companies in the financial services, technology, retail, government/public sector, health care, energy, telecommunications, e-commerce, Internet services and media industries. The full report is available here.

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