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DDoS attacks are more frequent and complex than ever

DDoS
(Image credit: Image Credit: Profit_Image / Shutterstock)

A record-breaking number of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks were conducted in 2020, a new report from cybersecurity firm NETSCOUT claims.

According to the report, there were 10,089,687 attacks last year, up 20 percent compared to 2019. NETSCOUT believes lockdowns played a major part in the trend, with an additional 22 percent increase identified in the second half of the year.

Covid-19 was important because it forced both consumers and businesses deeper into the digital realm. Cybercriminals understood how important the internet had become, particularly for industries such as e-commerce, streaming services, online learning and healthcare.

In August, NETSCOUT identified “one of the most sustained and extensive DDoS extortion campaigns yet seen”. It managed to send the New Zealand stock exchange offline and later targeted businesses involved in Covid-19 testing and vaccine development.

DDoS extortion attacks, similar in style to ransomware campaigns, also grew in popularity last year. This type of attack sees criminals force systems offline with a high-intensity DDoS attack and then demand payment in exchange for halting the assault.

Overloaded firewalls and virtual private network (VPN) concentrators, described as “crucial technologies used during the pandemic lockdown”, contributed to the outages in 83 percent of the enterprises that suffered DDoS attacks, up 21 percent compared to the same period the year prior.

In some cases, DDoS attacks serve as a diversion, while criminals infiltrate the network to either install other malware or exfiltrate data.