Homeland Security warns of increasing DDoS attacks on web

“When an attacker attempts to prevent legitimate users from accessing a computer resource, normally by overwhelming it with malicious traffic. By targeting a company’s Internet-connected infrastructure—its websites, portals, email, databases and more— an attack can block end users from doing business as usual” Definition of an DDoS attack, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT)

The damage to a brand or company from a Denial of Services Attack can be staggering and it’s one of rising cyber crimes on the net these days.

Even small website owners on affordable hosting platforms need to take care. It’s critical the business owner selects a high-grade open-source hosting provider that provides a 99.99% uptime and a strong security pedigree.

According to US-CERT one common scenario is as follows:

An attacker floods a network connection with tens of gigabits of traffic, creating bottlenecks in firewalls, routers or even the connection itself. When the next request for service tries to come or go, the network connection is clogged. The request is denied. Communication stops.

US-CERT confirms that the first DDoS attack took place way back in 1990 and nowadays these can occur as frequently as 1000 times per day and some bigger companies may lose as much as $150,000 in a single day from such an attack. For an enterprise company this could amount to millions.

The growth rate for these computer attacks is now estimated to be about 45% annually.

Interestingly, a US-CERT report mentions World IPv6 Day stating that plenty of companies still aren’t capable of handling IPv6 traffic.

IPv6 is the new version of the Internet Protocol and as such a source of available IP addresses. It supplements its predecessor, IPv4.

“Most DDoS mitigation solutions haven’t made the upgrade. While attacks that utilize IPv6 still aren’t a mainstream tactic, they did start cropping up in 2011. With IPv6 sure to gain steady if slow acceptance, you’d be wise to make sure your DDoS solution (and DNS) are ready,” said US-CERT.

But, the most dangerous target may be mobile devices.  During one two-week stretch, 20,000 devices were involved in DDoS.  Mobile device infrastructure is expanding fast, essentially creating a second-tier wireless Internet. Speeds are increasing too as 4G services roll out.

“Unfortunately, mobile-device security hasn’t kept pace. Mobile devices are not only susceptible to malware infections, but can also be used by the bad guys to download free attack tools. That’s right; you can launch a DDoS attack from most smart phones or tablets. Bottom line: mobile devices are starting to magnify the threat.”

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