September 20, 2020

DDoS Attacks – Has Coronavirus Distracted Us From a Major Threat in Business Security

3 min read

According to Business Wire, Neustar reported that DDoS attacks were up 180% in 2019. The report went on to highlight that attacks were intensifying in strength and complexity. While 2019 saw some of the largest DDoS attacks so far, these numbers aren’t the ones we should worry about.

Small scale attacks, classified as those under 5 Gbps and less also saw their largest increase in 2019. In this post, we’ll look at what might well pose the biggest threat to business security in 2020. Here’s a hint – it’s not Coronavirus.

Why are DDoS Attacks Problematic?

A DDoS attack can be difficult to guard against. While we do have sophisticated software that can detect patterns that point to a DDoS attack, it’s hard to stop it in real-time. In most instances, it’s only once the attack has commenced that we can take definitive steps to deal with it.

Once the attack is underway, it’s imperative to deal with it fast. These attacks can wreak havoc with your website and your company intranet. They won’t encrypt your data like ransomware does, but they can prevent you from accessing it.

The effect is similar – your company or your site is effectively rendered inoperable.

Why We Should Worry About Small-Scale Attacks

A 587 Gbps attack makes headlines and sounds impressive.  In truth, though, the chances of your business being subjected to this kind of attack are minimal. This scale of attack would require substantial computer resources.

Resources that would be very costly. Now, while someone with bad intentions can theoretically build or rent a botnet army capable of this large-scale attack, it would be prohibitively expensive to do so. The potential rewards of launching this kind of attack against anything other than a government or multi-national corporation would be low.

Even then, in those instances where this kind of power is required, maintaining a DDoS attack would be difficult. The type of targets we’re referring to here have significant resources and security countermeasures of their own.

The uptake in small-scale attacks is far more worrying. Small-scale attacks can be carried out by smaller networks, or even single computers.

How Can a Single Computer Launch a Successful DDoS Attack?

Technically it can’t. This type of attack is called a DoS attack. The distinction, however, is meaningless if you’re the target. Unfortunately, our love of technology and connectivity is making it a lot easier for DoS attacks to occur.

To understand why we need to understand something of how a DDoS attack works. There are a few ways to launch such attacks, but the principle is similar. The company’s servers receive more data or service requests than they can handle. This overload results in network latency or interruption.

With a DoS attack, the bad actor uses shared network devices to create an overload. Whether the service request comes from an external source or the smart TV in the boardroom, doesn’t matter. The result is the same.

Final Notes

While the world focuses on the pandemic and its economic impact, we could be missing a more insidious threat. Ransomware attackers are making headlines for targeting the health industry.

In the background, DoS and DDoS attacks are steadily increasing with far less fanfare. Businesses must shift their focus from Coronavirus to other potentially more dangerous security threats.