The Evolving Threat of DDoS Attacks and How to Stay Ahead

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The Evolving Threat of DDoS Attacks and How to Stay Ahead-01

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are a big threat for today’s organizations. Current trends suggest that these attacks are becoming increasingly more sophisticated, persistent and larger in scale, causing potential damage to the brand, productivity and the bottom line. 

The increased dependence of organizations on internet connectivity and remote working during the COVID-19 crisis has increased the disruptive potential of DDoS attacks, which threaten to overthrow network infrastructure and business servers if proper mitigation strategies are not in place.

However, many businesses still do not consider DDoS as a significant threat, mostly due to them being less frequent than other forms of cyber-attacks. Also, there is a perception that these attacks are almost exclusively politically motivated and that they are expensive to mitigate against.

Also Read: Addressing the Security Vulnerabilities and Challenges in the Age of IoT

But, in 2020, the world witnessed several attacks against the healthcare industry. The most significant one witnessed was the March 2020 denial-of-service attack against the U.S. Health and Human Services Department that was operated by an unknown attacker amid the virus outbreak.

As per a Link11 report, DDoS attacks reached a record high in 2020.  The number DDoS attacks nearly doubled from February to September 2020, and were on average 98% higher than in the same period in 2019.

DDoS Attacks against IoT Devices

With enterprises increasing their usage of IoT devices, threat actors have now found another area of technology for them to exploit. IoT devices, especially the ones that are unpatched and have weak passwords are perfect targets for DDoS attacks.

Mirai is one of the first and best known such botnet, mostly used to launch joint DDoS attacks against IoT devices. In 2016, when Mirai’s developers publicly released the source code, other cybercriminals found ways to build new and improved botnets that were able to adapt.

DDoS-as-a-Service

Today, cybercriminals don’t need significant technical skills in order to launch an attack especially with malicious campaigns being put up for on the dark web. This especially holds true in the case of DDoS-as-a-Service. In fact, anyone can easily rent DDoS toolkits for just a few dollars per month.

DDoS-as-a-Service sales are becoming more commonplace and are no longer just limited to the dark web, especially with more cybercriminals recognizing this opportunity to make profits without risking exposure. In fact, threat actors are also promoting their services on social media platforms like YouTube and Reddit by calling their products “stressers” – designed test a server’s robustness.

Extortion

Cyber criminals are also leveraging this technique for extortion purposes by threatening DDoS attacks against organizations. Even though such attempts can fail if the organization doesn’t take it seriously, a successful attack can overthrow server activity and operations, even when carried out by unsophisticated attackers.

Also Read: The Top Three Security Flaws in IoT and Smart Devices

Here are a few strategies to protect organizations against the latest techniques used in DDoS campaigns:

  • Contingency Plan – Businesses must prepare a contingency plan. They need to analyze and determine their critical resources and services and make sure that they have an updated response plan in place so that the critical assets are protected.
  • Communication Channel – Organizations need to maintain a clear communication channel with their cloud and internet service providers as their support will be necessary during a DDoS attack.
  • Knowledge Base – Businesses should build an extensive knowledge base of threat actor groups and their preferred techniques and strategies as this can help demystify impersonations and spoofs.
  • Digital exposure – There should be a record of all the critical assets of an organizations and monitoring of the internet footprint so that companies are not taken by surprise by threat actors.
  • IoT devices – Most important of all, organizations must protect their IoT devices by updating all the unpatched devices, using complex passwords, and keeping unsecure IoT devices off their main working network.

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