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DDoS Attacks Spiked in Q1 2015: Akamai

The state of affairs when it comes to dealing with distributed denial-of-service attacks is not particularly rosy, according to Akamai Technologies’ ‘Q1 2015 State of the Internet – Security Report’. 

The state of affairs when it comes to dealing with distributed denial-of-service attacks is not particularly rosy, according to Akamai Technologies’ ‘Q1 2015 State of the Internet – Security Report’. 

The first quarter of the year set a record for the number of DDoS attacks observed across Akamai’s Prolexic network, with the total number of attacks being more than double the number recorded in the first quarter of 2014. The number of attacks also represented a jump of more than 35 percent compared to the final quarter of last year.

Eric Kobrin, Akamai’s director of information security responsible for adversarial resilience, tied the increase to the continued exploitation of network devices and associated protocols for reflection attacks, as well as the growing popularity of DDoS-for-hire sites.

“(It’s) very inexpensive to launch attacks DDoS being used as a preferred attack method for malicious actors,” he said. “As a result, we have noticed an increase within our customer base as well an overall higher demand for cloud-based DDoS mitigation services.”

The typical DDoS attack during the first quarter of 2015 was less than 10 gigabits per second (Gbps) and lasted for more than 24 hours. There were also eight “mega-attacks” during the quarter that exceeded 10 Gbps, the report noted.

The gaming sector was the hardest hit with DDoS attacks during the quarter, accounting for more than 35 percent of all DDoS attack victims. Unfortunately for the gaming industry, this is not a new reality. According to Akamai, the gaming sector has been the most targeted industry since the second quarter of last year.

Attackers frequently turned to the Simple Service Discovery Protocol (SSDP), which accounted for more than 20 percent of the attack vectors used during the first few months of the year. The quarter also saw a 22.22 percent increase in application layer (Layer 7) DDoS attacks compared to the fourth quarter of 2014. There was also a 36.74 percent increase in infrastructure layer (layer 3 and 4 ) attacks compared to the final months of 2014 as well. 

“Some of the growth is likely related to new vulnerability disclosures and the commercialization of DDoS botnets,” said Kobrin. “Some of it may be an artifact of our evolving measurement systems.”

While challenges remain in the present, organizations should also consider the hurdles that will have to be jumped in the future due to the growth of IPv6 adoption. While IPv6 DDoS is not yet a common occurrence, there are indications attackers have started testing and researching IPv6 DDoS methods, according to Akamai.

“Because IPv6 grants each user a large address space…security solutions may be bypassed by attackers appearing to come from multiple addresses without needing to purchase or steal more connectivity,” Kobrin said. “Additionally, software designed for IPv4 which had IPv6 shoehorned in, may not have duplicated the protections which had been added for v4 vulnerabilities to the v6 side of the codebase.”

The report can be read here.  

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