Distanted Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks have been on the rise throughout the year, and the attacks are getting stronger.
DDoS attacks are carried out on websites or web services in order to disable them. The attackers are directing the traffic of an army from botnet to hundreds of thousands of computers, servers and other internet-connected devices that they have gained control of - through malware - to the target they want to shut down.
An attack can only last a few seconds or a few hours or days and prevent legitimate users from accessing the websites - for that time.
DDoS attacks have been in our lives for many years, but this time they are different. We are facing a pandemic in which most people do everything online - work, study, shop and much more - so the situation is much more serious.
However, a new report on cyber threat by Netscout suggests that this is exactly what is happening, as cybercriminals carry out more DDoS attacks than ever before. The company said it had 4,83 million DDoS attacks in the first half of 2020, an increase of 15% compared to 2019.
And while there are sometimes political or economic motives behind DDoS attacks, in many cases those who control campaigns simply start them because they can.
The bad news is that DDoS attacks are also increasing in size, with the power of the strongest attacks increasing by 2.851% since 2017 - giving attackers the ability to "hit" networks much faster than ever.
The reason DDoS attacks become more powerful is because they become more complex, using many different types of devices and targeting different parts of the victim network. Indeed, attackers learn that the more basic DDoS attacks become less effective, so they reject them for some stronger ones.
One thing that helps botnets of DDoS attacks is that much of the source code for them is available for free. The most infamous case is Mirai botnet, which posted a plethora of online services at the end of 2016. The source code for Mirai was posted online and has since served as the backbone for building various botnets.
The growing number of connected devices also serves to increase the potential power of botnets. Intruders can take control of insecure computers and servers. But the increase of devices Internet of Things (IoT) aggravates the situation as these devices are connected to the internet and often have little or no security protocols. These devices can be used in attacks.
Some botnets like Gafgyt are powered only by devices IoT, as attackers try to exploit their lack of protection.