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France is getting its ass handed to it by DDoS attacks

France is being battered by a relentless onslaught of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, according to the latest research.

The unprecedented levels of DDoS attacks are down to the popularity of several major French hosting providers, such as OVH.

According to research published by Arbor, the first quarter of 2014 saw 72 attacks larger than 100Gbps, and 1.5 times the total number of attacks over 20Gbps as in the whole of 2013. A record 325Gbps attack also hit France earlier this year.

"They've got a lot of big hosting providers and some of those are used by the gaming industry," said Darren Anstee, director of solutions architects at Arbor. The gaming industry makes an attractive DDoS target due to the importance players place on the 24/7 availability of platforms. The cost of downtime both in financial and reputational terms can be catastrophic.

He went on to say that "These attacks have become so large, they pose a very serious threat to Internet infrastructure, from the ISP to the enterprise."

The dramatic increase in attack size and ferocity has come as a result of what's known as "amplification". Protocols such as Network Time Protocol can today be used to generate massive DDoS attacks with relatively little effort on behalf of the attackers.

In this kind of attack, the hackers abuse vulnerable NTP servers by spoofing the IP address of a target, sending small requests and getting massive responses in return.

Their unfortunate target IP is then flooded, and the system goes down.

Recent research found that NTP attacks were used in 14 per cent of DDoS events overall but 56% of events over 10 GB/sec and 84.7 per cent of events over 100 GB/sec.

Read more: 5 DDoS defence strategies every company should know