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DDoS attacks saw a huge rise over past year

(Image credit: Image Credit: Profit_Image / Shutterstock)

The total number of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks has risen substantially over the past year, but their average size and intensity has dwindled. This, however, isn’t good news – it’s just news of a shifting strategy among cybercriminals.

Neustar’s Security Operations Center has just released a new report, which claims that there has been a 241 per cent increase in DDoS attacks in the third quarter of the year, compared to the same period last year.

Most of these attacks were smaller in scale, going up to 5 gigabits per second, but not more than that. These “small” threats were up 303 per cent, compared to last year. Small attacks, which include more application-layer incursions, accounted for four fifths of all attacks for the quarter (up from 75 per cent from the previous quarter, and 69 per cent from a year ago).

Average attack size was reduced from 10.5 gigabits per second, to 7.6 Gbps. Average intensity is down from 10.5 million packets per second to 7.6 Mpps. At the same time, this quarter’s most intense attack was by a quarter higher than last year’s strongest one – hitting 343 Mpps.

Neustar’s report says that smaller strikes, which often hide application-layer attacks, are growing in popularity for two main reasons. One – they’re easier to mount and two – they’re not as easy to detect, which means they can wreak havoc for days and do more damage in the long run.

“This is not a time to be complacent. Q4 through the beginning of Q1 is traditionally the time when DDoS attacks hit the hardest,” said Rodney Joffe, senior vice president, senior technologist and fellow at Neustar.

“There are nearly 20 billion IoT devices in use across the world right now, and many of them still use the same generic, factory-issued security features they were built with. It no longer takes an experienced, savvy, cybercriminal to orchestrate a DDoS attack — a novice hacker can now rent a cloud-based botnet for about $25 an hour.”

Neustar’s full report can be found here.