This year saw some notorious hacks, with attacks taken out on Ashley Madison, several automobile systems, and the US government.
But one type of internet attack had a particular good year – Distributed Denial of Service, or DDoS.
DDoS attacks, where large numbers of infected devices all connect to a service at once to bring it down, are up 180% year on year, according to the latest Akamai State of the Internet Security report.
The targets of DDoS attacks – largely telecommunications, media and gaming companies, can incur huge losses, both monetarily and reputationally. British Telco TalkTalk was brought down by a joint DDoS attack, an $18 million video game tournament was crashed, and many iiNet customers spent a weekend unable to connect to the internet.
It’s not just the total number of attacks that are up, it’s also the scale of the attacks. Akamai recorded a number of attacks that were so large they could bring down a “tier 1 router” – the kind of router employed by our internet service providers.
A few weeks ago someone tried a large attack against one of the servers underpinning the internet. Luckily, its army of infected devices – its botnet – wasn’t big enough.
But this won’t always be the case. DDoS attacks have become so popular that a marketplace has become established – it is possible to buy and even rent networks of infected devices.
The data from Akamai shows that a few countries are largely responsible for these attacks. The US is the biggest culprit – accounting for almost 400 attacks in the last 24 hours, followed closely by China.
The US also holds the all time ranking for botnet attacks – at over 7 million. China is not far behind with 6.3 million.
Over the past year Australia has accounted for about 5% of all DDoS attacks. China and the US have been jostling for first position in the number of DDoS attacks launched.
The likely reason for the UK’s taking the top spot in the last quarter is an inability to verify some attacks as originating from either China or the US.
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