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Cybersecurity in the News: DDoS Attacks on the Rise

Distributed-denial-of-service, or DDoS, attacks are a form of cyber attack in which malicious actors utilize multiple Internet-enabled devices to deliver a surplus of Internet traffic to the targeted victim’s computer network and devices, effectively blocking legitimate traffic and overwhelming the servers beyond their capabilities. The point of a DDoS attack is to kick a business offline and render the online sites and services inoperable.

There are three major reasons a hacker will choose to utilize a DDoS attack against their chosen victim: personal, political, and financial. Personal and political motives are more emotion driven — the attacker wants to block traffic to a specific site because they have a grudge against the company or a different stance either politically or in their personal opinions. The hacker in this case is essentially just trying to cause a grievance for the sake of frustrating the company and their servers. As with most cyber attacks, the main reason that most attackers will unleash a DDoS swarm on a victim is for financial gain. In these instances, the malicious actor distributing the DDoS attack lets the target know that the attack can be stopped if they pay up big time. A DDoS attack is one of the most headache inducing attacks because the downtime is frustrating to deal with on its own, but as we know with all businesses, time is money. The longer your systems are offline, the longer your customers are unable to interact with and potentially purchase things from your site.

Recently, DDoS attacks have been on the rise, particularly with ransomware attackers. Cybersecurity company Netscout has unveiled that DDoS attacks for the first half of 2021 are up by 11% from the same time period in 2020, totaling 5.4 million DDoS attacks over the six month period of January to June 2021. The company believes that the total number of DDoS attacks for 2021 will exceed 11 million attacks worldwide.

Earlier this month, three UK VoIP (voice over IP) providers were hit by DDoS attacks over a mere 3-day period. Cloud Communications Alliance (CCA) reported that it has learned about a “sophisticated, specific and ongoing attack”, believed to be from Russian cybercriminal organization REvil. One of the companies, VoIP Unlimited, experienced a 75 hour DDoS attack — rendering their voice over IP services inoperable to them and their customers for a significant period of time.

With DDoS attacks, a preventative approach is the best cybersecurity philosophy for dealing with DDoS. Having to react to one of these attacks will leave you and your company unable to operate for an undefined amount of time and cost you even more time and money trying to get back online and protected. One of the best tips for preventing DDoS is to utilize strong, high-quality firewalls in order to filter legitimate traffic from malicious attempts.

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