First Quarter 2014 Sees Increase in Data Breaches and DDoS Attacks

Sue Marquette Poremba
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How Heartbleed Is Changing Security

It’s hard to believe that 2014 is one-third complete, and that we are now into May. With this past never-ending winter, it feels like we have just finally hit March 1. That must be why I felt surprised to see the first-quarter security updates arriving in my inbox – we can’t be at that time of the year if there are still no leaves on the trees!

If you feel like there has been an unusual amount of news about data breaches so far in 2014, it is because there has been an unusual amount of data breaches. According to research from SafeNet, there has been a 233 percent increase in the number of data breaches when compared to the first quarter of 2013, with over 200 million records stolen or compromised. Approximately 26 people are the victim of a breach every second.

The most disturbing statistic revealed by SafeNet? It’s this:


… only 1% of the 254 data breaches that occurred in the quarter were “secure breaches” – breaches where strong encryption, key management and/or authentication solutions rendered the compromised data useless.

With the high-profile breaches of last year and the overall increased awareness that better cybersecurity practices are a must, enterprise still isn’t doing much more than what they’ve always done.

Data breaches aren’t the only problem on the rise. A study from Arbor Networks found that DDoS attacks have also seen a sharp increase in the first quarter of 2014. According to Arbor Networks, there has been an unprecedented spike in volumetric attacks, driven by the proliferation of Network Time Protocol (NTP) reflection/amplification attacks. NTP is a relatively new tool for DDoS attacks. As the folks from Arbor Networks explained to me:

NTP is a UDP-based protocol used to synchronize clocks over a computer network. Any UDP-based service including DNS, SNMP, NTP, chargen, and RADIUS is a potential vector for DDoS attacks because the protocol is connectionless and source IP addresses can be spoofed by attackers who have control of compromised or ‘botted’ hosts residing on networks which have not implemented basic anti-spoofing measures. NTP is popular due to its high amplification ratio of approximately 1000x. Furthermore, attacks tools are becoming readily available, making these attacks easy to execute.

As a CloudFlare blog pointed out, NTP DDoS attacks are easy to create, and we are likely to see more of these attacks in the coming year.

It looks like it was a long winter for cybersecurity efforts. But as spring finally arrives, perhaps the next quarter of the year will see improved security news.



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