What would you do if your company was hit with a DDoS attack that lasted 11 days? Perhaps a large organization could withstand that kind of outage, but it could be devastating to the SMB, especially if it relies on web traffic for business transactions.
That 11-day – 277 hours to be more exact – attack did happen in the second quarter of 2017. Kaspersky Lab said it was longest attack of the year, and 131 percent longer than the longest attack in the first quarter. And unfortunately, the company’s latest DDoS intelligence report said we should expect to see these long attacks more frequently, as they are coming back into fashion. This is not the news businesses want to hear.
Enduring DDoS attacks isn’t new. Igal Zeifman, senior manager at Imperva for the Incapsula product line, told me in an email comment that in 2016, the company tracked a network layer attack that lasted more than 29 days and an application layer assault that persisted for 69 days straight. However, Zeifman argued against the Kaspersky finding, saying that it doesn’t mesh with what his company has seen, despite those extended attacks from last year:
For the past four quarters we continued to see a persistent decline in the average attack duration, driven by an increased number of short attack burst of 30 minutes or less. These bursts accounted for over 58 percent of all network layer attacks and more than 90 percent of all assault layer attacks in the first quarter of the year.
Interesting to see such disparate results in the length of DDoS attacks. Whether days long or short bursts, one thing is certain – those initiating the attacks have very definite reasons for doing so. As the Kaspersky Lab report stated, financial extortion was a top reason for the attacks in the second quarter:
This approach was dubbed “ransom DDoS”, or “RDoS”. Cybercriminals send a message to a victim company demanding a ransom of 5 to 200 bitcoins. In case of nonpayment, they promise to organize a DDoS attack on an essential web resource of the victim. Such messages are often accompanied by short-term attacks which serve as demonstration of the attacker’s power. The victim is chosen carefully. Usually, the victim is a company which would suffer substantial losses if their resources are unavailable.
Political hacktivists are hard at work, too, going after news organizations, elections and, in the U.S., the FCC, likely in retaliation for wanting to abolish net neutrality. The FCC has acknowledged the attack, but reports are the agency is making its cybersecurity efforts secret. I’ll be following up more on that story later this week.
Sue Marquette Poremba has been writing about network security since 2008. In addition to her coverage of security issues for IT Business Edge, her security articles have been published at various sites such as Forbes, Midsize Insider and Tom's Guide. You can reach Sue via Twitter: @sueporemba