Crashing sites and overpowering datacenters, a different generation of cyber attacks is costing firms millions.
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks have been among the most common on the net, using hijacked and virus-infected computer systems to focus on websites until they cannot handle the scale of data being requested or sent, but recent weeks we have seen a string of especially severe attacks.
Last month, internet security firm Cloudflare claims it protected one of its clients from what could be the largest DDoS recorded to date.
At its peak, it was hitting 400 gigabyte per second (gbps) which was approximately 30 percent larger than the biggest attack recorded in 2013, an effort to knock down antispam website Spamhaus, which is also secured by Cloudflare.
The very next day, a DDoS attack on the virtual currency, Bitcoin, temporarily took down its capability to process payments.
On February 20, internet registration firm Namecheap stated it was temporarily overwhelmed by multiple attacks on 300 of the websites it registers, and bit.ly, which creates shortened addresses for websites like Twitter, suggests it had been also out briefly in February.
In a dramatic case of extortion, social network site Meetup.com said on Monday it had been combating a continual battle against hackers who brought down the website for several days and were demanding US$300 to halt the attacks. the site refused to pay, Meetup CEO Scott Heiferman told Reuters.com.
“It’s really a game of cat and mouse,” explained Jag Bains, chief technology officer of Seattle-based DOSarrest, a company that assists government and private-sector clients protect their websites.
“I’d like to say we are ahead, but I just don’t think it’s true.”
Along with growing in volume, he said attacks have been becoming a lot more innovative in targeting the most prone areas of websites, making even a small attack a lot more efficient.
The aims of attacks consist of extortion, political activism, a distraction from data theft and, for “hobbyist” hackers, just tests and showcasing their skills.