The stories published regularly about new DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks on major companies and financial institutions always include details of the monetary losses suffered by the targets of the attacks, including revenue lost during site downtime and the cost of hiring expert DDoS mitigation specialists like Psychz Networks.
What the stories seldom mention is the biggest loss these companies suffer after being attacked: the trust of those depending on their services. Retail or financial firms whose customers are unable to reach their sites face the loss of customer confidence and future business, and internet service providers hit with DDoS attacks face the loss of clients who require consistent and reliable uptime.
Corero Network Security has just released its second annual DDoS impact survey of Internet security professionals attending the 2016 RSA Conference, in which almost 50% of those participating said that the worst effect of DDoS attacks is the loss of customer confidence and trust. Only about one-third named lost revenue as the most damaging consequence.
That was the most eye-opening result of the survey, but there were other interesting numbers as well. Read on.
Frequency of DDoS Attacks
The Corero survey asked respondents how often their networks experience DDoS attacks, and about one-third of them said they are DDoS’d weekly or even daily. While that may seem startling, Corero COO Dave Larson says he finds the number troubling but not surprising, because these days it’s relatively easy and inexpensive for hackers and cybercriminals to launch attacks. The survey results seem to support Akamai’s 2015 State of the Internet report, which found that the frequency of DDoS attacks was at an all-time high and had increased well over 100% from the previous year.
Larson also believes that the number of DDoS incidents is now so high because many hackers have started launching two-phase attacks. They begin with a smaller-scale DDoS designed to distract security professionals while using up network resources and lowering overall server performance, covering up a more malicious high-level incursion infecting the system with malware or installing permanent, hidden backdoors.
Defense Against DDoS Attacks
More alarming than the sheer number of DDoS incidents is Larson’s belief that a large number of organizations don’t even know that DDoS attacks against their systems are occurring. He says that’s because 30% of them (as measured by the Corero survey) rely on firewalls, load balancers or other traditional tools for security, and those methods of infrastructure protection are virtually useless in DDoS mitigation. Most of those companies also lack monitoring systems which can detect attacks.
As a security systems vendor, of course, Corero is interested in the security products respondents would be willing to pay for and included survey questions to cover that area. The results showed that 85% of respondents would like to see upstream providers offer better DDoS mitigation services to scrub all traffic coming from attacks, half would consider paying for premium ISP services which would prevent DDoS traffic from reaching them, and a third said they’d be willing to pay up to 10% more on their ISP bill if those services were available.