Rise of automation: Battle of the bots

As outlined in the Global Application and Network Security Report 2015-2016, Radware found that throughout 2015, no industry was immune to cyber attacks, and few were prepared.

In 2016, attacks are predicted to become even more aggressive with the arrival of Advanced Persistent Denial of Service (APDoS) attacks and an increase in volume and scope of sophisticated bot-generated attacks against web application infrastructure.

“The front lines of information security will not include humans,” said Carl Herberger, vice president of security solutions at Radware. “As defenses continue to succumb to an endless flood of sophisticated, automated attacks and an infinite number of new attack techniques, the idea of humans having the ability to deploy detection technologies and choreograph responses in real-time will disappear. We are approaching the fall of human cyber defenses and the rise of cyber botted-defense.”

Key findings from the report include:

Increase in frequency of ransoms: Attackers focus their Ransom demands toward service providers and leverage both DDoS and SSL Flood attacks when payment is not made.

Wider and more sophisticated attack modalities: Attacks are becoming completely automated and more sophisticated each day. New techniques like Burst Attacks, Advanced Persistent Denial of Service (APDoS), increase in volumetric pipe attacks, and Dynamic IP Attacks make it harder to defend against mostly manual solutions.

Increased attacks on education and hosting industries. In 2015, several verticals faced consistent levels of threat, while both Education and Hosting moved from “Medium” to “High” risk on Radware’s Ring of Fire map. Organizations in these verticals are more likely to experience DoS/DDoS and other cyber-attacks and to experience such attacks at a higher frequency than in the previous year.

A growing need for security automation. With a rise in APDoS and other volumetric pipe attacks, including the mimicking of user behavior and serving up dynamic IP addresses, there is an emerging threat that demands more advanced detection and mitigation,

Over 90% Experienced Attacks in 2015. More than 90% of organizations reported experiencing attacks in 2015. Only one in 10 had not experienced any of the attacks covered in the report.

The enterprise is still not prepared for cyber attacks. While more than 60% are extremely/very well prepared to safeguard against unauthorized access and worm and virus damage, the same proportion of respondents indicated somewhat/not very prepared against APT and information theft. For DDoS, results split almost evenly between prepared and not prepared to protect against such attacks.

Protection gaps were identified across the board. One-third of respondents cited a volumetric/pipe saturation weakness, and another quarter cited vulnerability to network and HTTPS/SSL attacks. Overall weaknesses are spread fairly evenly, suggesting a true protection gap for most organizations today.

“In 2015, cyber-attacks became the new normal, as 90% of organizations surveyed experienced them in varying degrees,” added Herberger. “Organizations should prepare for the challenges that will lie ahead in 2016, laying the groundwork now to fight back against new methods and motivation.”

Radware’s recommendations include the following steps to anticipate and mitigate attacks:

Bet on bots and automation. It is no longer realistic to believe humans can deploy detection technologies and choreograph threat responses in real time. Rather, it has become necessary to fight automated threats with automation technology.

Cover the blind spot. To target an organization’s blind spot, attackers deploy parallel, multi-vector attack campaigns by increasing the number of attack vectors launched in parallel and targeting different layers of the network and data center. If only one vector goes undetected, the attack is successful and the result is highly destructive.

Mitigate all types of DDoS attacks. Organizations need a single vendor, hybrid solution that can protect networks and applications for a wide range of attacks. A truly integrated solution includes all the different technologies needed, including DoS protection, behavioral analysis, IPS, encrypted attack protection and web application firewall (WAF).

Understand the likelihood and cause of attacks. Mitigation assumptions should move in lockstep with risk level. Whether it’s preparing for increased industry risk or being mindful to how hacktivists operate and select targets, understanding fuels preparation to mitigate risks and defend your network.