The Exponential Growth of DDoS Attacks


13 Jan 2016

The Exponential Growth of DDoS Attacks

By Adam King- Security Consultant at PGI Cyber

DDoS attacks are one of the most common forms of cyber-attack happening in the world today.

The media descend on this buzzword like a kettle of vultures, pecking the metaphorical flesh off of victimised corporations who endlessly crawl with optimistic conviction towards the promising oasis known throughout the barren wastelands of technology as cyber security.

Maybe I took that metaphor a little too far. What I’m trying to say is that achieving acceptable security standards is really hard, and organisations who can’t keep up tend to get breached, and those who get breached tend to get violated by the media.

Over the last couple of years we’ve seen some gargantuan DDoS attacks. From Sony to Yahoo, eBay, Amazon, Dell, and most recently the BBC. These organisations are some of the largest in the world, and yet they have been unable to handle the capacity generated by attacks  as large as 602gbps.  Only a couple of months ago did a group of hackers  take down one of the internet’s DNS root servers -  a datacentre which forms part of the backbone of the internet, using a DDoS attack of unprecedented proportions. I repeat; someone broke the internet.

What we are seeing here is a trend in which the power of DDoS attacks is going in a general upwards direction, which is bad news for, well, everything really. In 2012 the largest DDoS attack was approximately 300gbps, compared to the 600gbps attack on the BBC recently. These attacks are getting bigger, and the largest of organisations are now struggling to cope with the sheer power of these attacks.

Additionally, bandwidth and internet speeds are getting faster and faster. 5 years ago the average broadband speed was approximately 9Mbit/s, whilst the average today is approximately 22Mbit/s. We are also looking at much faster home computers these days, with new technologies such as the  multi-tiered N3XT chip  set to revolutionise home computing with potential performance boosts by a factor of 1,000. DDoS attacks typically harness the power of home computers affected by Malware by incorporating these machines into a very large botnet, therefore faster home computers means more powerful DDoS attacks. 

All of this can only mean one thing; DDoS will get worse. The question is, how do we stop this?

In my opinion, there are two possibilities;

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