Average DDoS attacks fatal to most businesses, report reveals

Criminal activity is top motivation for DDoS attacks as average attacks become strong enough to down most businesses.

Criminal activity is top motivation for DDoS attacks as average attacks become strong enough to down most businesses.

Average intensity distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks are now great enough to knock most businesses offline, a report has revealed.
According to Arbor Networksí annual Worldwide Infrastructure Security Report, the largest attack reported in the past year was 500Gbps, representing a 60 times increase in 11 years.

There were also reports of attacks of 450Gbps, 425Gbps and 337Gbps, but these are fairly rare, said Gary Sockrider, principal security technologist at Arbor Networks.

Another significant change, he said, is that for the first time in several years criminal activity has replaced hacktivism and vandalism as the top motive for DDoS attacks.

DDoS attacks are being used mostly by cyber criminals to demonstrate attack capabilities, mainly for extortion purposes.
A growing number of businesses are also seeing DDoS attacks being used as a distraction or smokescreen for installing malware and stealing data.
Arbor Networksí survey of more than 350 network operators, including service providers and enterprises, also revealed that complex attacks are increasing.
More than half of respondents reported multi-vector attacks that targeted infrastructure, applications and services simultaneously, up from 42% the previous year.
A third of respondents saw attacks targeting their cloud-based services, up from 19% in 2013 and 29% in 2014, while just over half of datacentre operators saw DDoS attacks saturate their internet connectivity. There was also a 10% increase from 2014 in datacentres seeing outbound attacks from servers within their networks to 34%.
According to the report, firewalls continue to fail during DDoS attacks, with more than half of enterprise respondents reporting a firewall failure as a result of a DDoS attack, up from a third the year before.
Firewalls add to the attack surface and are prone to becoming the first victims of DDoS attacks as their capacity to track connections is exhausted, the report said.
The proportion of enterprise respondents seeing malicious insiders is up on the previous year, from 12% to 17%, and the proportion of respondents reporting security incidents relating to employee-owned devices more than doubled from the previous year to 13%.
However, nearly 40% of all enterprise respondents still do not have tools deployed to monitor employee-owned devices on the network, the report said.
Response to attacks improving
On the positive side, the survey showed an increasing focus on better response, with 57% of enterprises looking to deploy systems to speed the incident response process.
Also, a third of service providers have reduced the time taken to discover an advanced persistent threat (APT) in their network to under one week, and 52% stated their discovery to containment time has dropped to under one month.
Advanced threats are one of the top concerns for enterprise organisations, the survey revealed. Loss of personal information and/or disruption of business processes are perceived as the top business risks from an advanced threat.
2015 also saw an increase in the proportion of enterprise respondents who had developed formal incident response plans, and dedicated at least some resources to respond to such incidents, up from around two-thirds to 75%.
However, it remains a challenge for companies to recruit people with the right cyber security skills to enable them to improve incident preparedness and response, with only 38% of respondents looking to expand their internal teams, down from 46% the year before.
As a result, the report showed an increasing reliance on managed services and outsourced support, with 50% of enterprises and 60% of service providers having contracted an external organisation for incident response and 74% seeing more demand from customers for managed services.

Cyber criminal activity by UK teens grows

More than 10% of UK teens say they know someone who has engaged in an illegal cyber activity, a survey has revealed.

More than 10% of UK teens say they know someone who has engaged in an illegal cyber activity, a survey has revealed.The survey was commissioned and published by security firm Kaspersky Lab to mark Safer Internet Day 2016 yesterday- which aims to promote the safe, responsible and positive use of digital technology for children and young people.

The survey also found that just over one third of respondents would be impressed if a friend hacked a bank’s website and replaced the homepage with a cartoon, and one in 10 would be impressed if a friend hacked the air traffic control systems of a local airport.

When asked how they would feel if a friend found their way into a celebrity’s online email account and discovered lots of private pictures, 18% said they would be impressed, and 17% would be impressed if a friend managed to obtain all the names and addresses of people who had bought adult films online.

More than a quarter of respondents said they knew how to hide their IP address, 41% said they knew about malware, 44% knew about phishing, 24% knew about distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, 17% knew about ransomware, and 13% knew about crypto-malware.

Recent research by the National Crime Agency (NCA) revealed the average age of a cyber criminal is now just 17, raising concern that youngsters are increasingly becoming involved in cyber crime, many of them unwittingly.

In the light of this finding, public awareness and understanding of the online behaviour of young people is vital, said David Emm, principal security researcher, Kaspersky Lab.

“It’s frighteningly easy for teenagers to find their way into the dark corners of the internet today as they explore and experiment or take their first steps towards making some easy money online by searching for tools and advice,” he said.

Once lured in, youngsters are vulnerable to exploitation by cyber criminals who use them to distribute and create malicious software or help launder funds from cyber crime, said Emm.

UK based criminals were the second highest originators of cyber crime attacks after the US in the second quarter, according to ThreatMetrix. Rising cyber crime suggests criminal law does not deter criminals and that a better legal solution is required to prevent further rises.

The survey also revealed misguided loyalty among teenagers. When asked what they would do if a friend was doing things online that could be illegal, more than half said they would tell the friend to stop, but would not tell anyone else.

One third said they would not get involved, 22% said they would ask about it but not join in, and only 21% said they would report it to the police.

The NCA recently launched a campaign aimed at preventing young people from becoming involved in cyber crime.

The Safer Internet Day 2016 campaign website provides guidance for parents and teachers on how to recognise signs of cyber criminal involvement and ways of encouraging the positive use of cyber skills.

Secure email Protonmail paid a ransom after DDOS web attacks

A secure email firm Protonmail, based in Switzerland, has paid a ransom of more than £3,600 after web attacks crippled its website.

A secure email firm Protonmail, based in Switzerland, has paid a ransom of more than £3,600 after web attacks crippled its website
The criminals behind the web attacks said the payment would stop the deluge of data hitting the site. But despite paying up, the web attacks continued, leaving Protonmail struggling to operate.

It has now launched a fund raising drive to raise cash to tackle any future attacks.

In a blogpost, Protonmail said it received an email on 3 November that contained a threat to attack its website unless it paid a ransom of 15 bitcoins (£3,640).

Protonmail did not respond to the message and, soon afterwards, was hit by what is known as a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. This tries to knock a server offline by bombarding it with more data than it can handle.

Protonmail is a free, web-based, encrypted email service that needs its site up and running to serve customers.

The first attack knocked out Protonmail for about 15 minutes and then stopped. A second attack the next day was much bigger and overwhelmed efforts by the email firm and its ISP to stop it.

“This co-ordinated assault on key infrastructure eventually managed to bring down both the datacenter and the ISP, which impacted hundreds of other companies, not just Protonmail,” it said on the blog.

In a bid to halt the attack, Protonmail said it “grudgingly” paid the 15 bitcoin ransom.

However, it said, this did not stop the attacks which continued to cause problems for many other firms.

Eventually, Protonmail’s ISP took action to remove the company’s site from the net to stem the flow of data.

Post-attack analysis suggests Protonmail was targeted in two phases, the company said. The first aided the ransom demand but the second was “not afraid of causing massive collateral damage in order to get at us”.

Switzerland’s national Computer Emergency Response Team (Cert), which helped Protonmail cope, said the attack was carried out by a cybercrime group known as the Armada Collective. This group has also targeted many other Swiss web companies over the last few weeks, the team said.

It said anyone who received ransom email should not pay up. Instead, they should talk to their ISPs about the best way to defend themselves against attacks.

Protonmail said that despite its work to harden itself against attack, it was still vulnerable to DDoS data deluges. It said it planned to sign up with a commercial service that can defend against the attacks but this would be likely to cost it more than £66,000 a year.

“We are fighting not just for privacy, but for the future of the internet,” it said.