Research Reveals Targeted & Determined DDoS Attacks

Distributed denial-of-service attacks continue as an effective means to distract and confuse security teams while inflicting serious brand damage, but survey data shows hackers getting higher yields from targeted, determined attacks.

According to Sterling, Va.-based information provider Neustar, bi-annual “Global DDoS Attacks and Cyber Security Insights Report,” brands experienced a 27% increase in the number of breaches per DDoS attack.

“With a nod toward consistency, attackers went after three of the major industries: financial services, retail, and technology, with a determined fervor,” the report revealed. However, there are some interesting caveats in this activity. Financial services and retail saw an increase in attacks over last year, but a decrease in incursions more than once. Conversely, companies in the technology vertical saw a decrease in rate of attacks, but an increase in multiple attacks.

Data from the report shows attackers are achieving higher levels of success against brands they only hit once: 52% of brands reported a virus associated with a DDOS attack, 35% reported malware, 21% reported ransomware and 18% reported lost customer data.

Over a twelve-month period, 75% of respondents recorded multiple DDoS attack attempts following an initial assault on their brand’s network. The resulting breach ratio increased as the number of DDoS attacks increases, but the net result is it only takes one attack to breach a brand’s defenses. Findings suggest that cybercriminals focused on taunting defenses, probing network vulnerabilities and executing more targeted strikes, instead of making noise with a singular, large attack. 

“Not only are hackers becoming craftier and more dangerous, but they’re also becoming more opportunistic,” Nicolai Bezsonoff, vice president, Neustar Security Solutions, said. “The importance of always-on vigilance and investment in DDoS security technology is essential for brands looking to adapt and evolve their defenses. Protecting a brand’s infrastructure and customer data against threats is paramount in the current digital landscape.”

Key findings from the report include:

Brands have a lot to lose – even if attacked only once. Ninety-two percent of those attacked just once reported theft of intellectual property, customer data and/or financial assets and resources; 89% acknowledged some form of associated activity, including data theft, dangerous ransomware, and network compromise with DDoS attacks; 36% saw malware activation during DDoS attacks as part of multi-tactic assaults

Internet of Things devices remain a tempting target for DDoS attacks. Seventy-six percent of brands with IoT devices in active operation took on assaults; of those 76 percent, nearly one-third suffered network compromises or damage to physical equipment; 40% of respondents actively focus on finding ways to prevent IoT devices from becoming compromised.

Attacks and breach activities not limited to large brands. Over 50% of mid-sized brands encountered an average of three breach incidents (malware, ransomware, virus, etc.); 60% of mid-sized brands experiencing an attack; on average, DDoS attacks caused brands $4.3 million in revenue generation risk.

Brands continued to make DDoS protection a budget priority, with layered defenses and web application firewalls listed as a top investment. Respondents noted that on average their brands have at least two components of DDoS protection that can include appliance hardware, cloud services, and hybrid deployments. Notably, protection against application layer threats has increased significantly with WAF solution deployments nearly tripling in the past year.

Top motivators for increased budget spend on DDoS protection include preserving customer confidence and brand reputation; prevention of associated attacks, including ransomware; and strengthening existing protection

“Brands need to continuously diversify their security strategy for DDoS – it’s no longer ‘good enough’ to accept a pre-packaged solution as the cornerstone of your security portfolio,” Barrett Lyon, vice president of research and development, Neustar Security Solutions, said. “Writing application code is difficult, but it is also fraught with security failings and attackers know this.”

Neustar and Harris Interactive conducted the global, independent research of 1,010 directors, managers, CISOs, CSOs, CTOs, and other C-suite executives to find out how DDoS attacks affect their brands and what measures are in place to counter these threats.

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