Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks are one of the most dependable and easily executed offensives hackers can use to bring down websites and organisations online.
DDoS’s happen when the attacker launches a series of scripts that are used to debilitate a web servers by sending them insane amounts of web traffic at the same time.
When such an attack occurs, it’s difficult for a victim to know what’s happening. It’s seems like just a wave of traffic that never seems to cease. But researchers have been working to both track the rise of DDoS attacks and figure out how to mitigate the damage. Burlington, Vermont-based Arbor Networks is one such firm, which has spent the last 15 years analysing traffic patters to see what’s going on macrocosmically online.
The company just released its quarterly report looking at the state of global DDoS attacks. Arbor has been releasing these reports for years, and each one has indicated that DDoS tactics aren’t going anywhere. In fact, as Arbor Networks’s Gary Sockrider explained to Business Insider, attackers have merely “shifted tactics.
When looking at this quarter’s past data, Arbor noticed that DDoS attackers are seeing “increased complexity and size.” More, the company witnessed what is said to be the largest attack ever recorded: a massive strike against an Asian network that sent 334 gigabytes per second.
Using this data, Arbor works to both provide real-time analyses about attacks as well as help networks defend themselves from future offensives.
Arbor is able to monitor this web activity through partnerships with over 330 global network operators. These are large networks seeing hundreds of terabytes of data transferred every second. While this is nowhere near close to all of the web traffic globally — Sockrider hypothesizes that Arbor’s sensors probably track anywhere from a quarter to a third of traffic, though he added that this was only speculative — it’s enough to get a deep understanding of how and what hackers are doing to take down large-scale global networks.
Sockrider said that this is why nearly 90% of the “tier one network providers” use Arbor Networks intelligence, as well as share their anonymized network data with the firm.
This latest report shows that DDoS is in a sort of golden age. Hackers are learning how to send these attacks using various tactics with increasing complexity. And the size of the attacks are getting larger. “If you plot it out over a few years you see a linear graph of the largest attacks getting larger and larger,” explained Sockrider.
This is bound to get only worse, thanks to a slew of widely publicized attacks of late. The website for telescope being built in Hawaii was recently attacked by a group working with Anonymous. Both Playstation and Xbox were the victim of a series of DDoS attacks, which led to the arrest of a few suspects. Most famously, China has reportedly been employing highly sophisticated automated DDoS attacks using a new tool called the Great Cannon.
While Arbor’s services are mostly targeted for companies, Sockrider admitted that the company has worked with law enforcement when it was appropriate.
And, as attacks become bigger and more widespread — focused on entire nations as opposed to individual companies — it’s likely Arbor’s services will be utilised more.
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