(September 18, 2023) A new study from Qrator Labs finds that Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are becoming more frequent. According to the report, the duration of DDoS attacks decreased by almost 30 percent to an average of 47 minutes. However, the total number increased by 40 percent in the past six months. Threat actors are also targeting more industries, including the e-commerce, education, and gaming sectors.
In addition, the report notes that the number of UDP flood attacks almost doubled, from 37 percent to 60 percent. The transition to remote and hybrid work models has increased the use of UDP, which provides better performance for latency-sensitive applications such as voice and video. As a result, UDP flood attacks have become more popular among threat actors due to their ability to cause greater impact. Multi-vector attacks are also increasingly common.
What is a DDoS Attack?
A DDoS attack is an attempt to shut down or significantly disrupt a network, website, or online operation by overwhelming it with Internet traffic. DDoS attacks are typically carried out by compromised devices, including computers and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. The devices are combined in a “botnet” manipulated by a threat actor known as a “bot herder.” Botnet malware can take total control of the device or sit in the background waiting for instructions.
In some cases, the malware is self-propagating — infected devices actively “recruit” other devices in the network. The result is a remotely controlled army capable of building capacity and generating huge amounts of traffic or data requests. This enables attackers to crash or flood online services, resulting in poor performance or the inability of legitimate users to access network resources.
What Is a UDP Flood Attack?
UDP flood attacks have the same objective but utilize User Datagram Protocol (UDP) rather than TCP. UDP enables applications to send packets directly to an IP address without establishing a connection. This connection process is referred to as a “handshake”. UDP is more efficient than TCP due to its lower overhead but doesn’t guarantee that packets will arrive properly.
These features enable attackers to easily flood a targeted server with UDP traffic. When the server receives a UDP packet, it checks the specified port for related applications. If it doesn’t find any, it replies with a “destination unreachable” message via the Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP). In a UDP flood attack, spoofed IP addresses send large numbers of packets to random ports on the target server. This forces the server to respond with large numbers of ICMP messages, exhausting resources and denying service to legitimate traffic.
Mitigating the Risk
The financial impact of a DDoS attack can be severe in terms of lost revenue, productivity, and data. Imagine if you could not access the Internet, making it impossible to send or receive email. What if network slowdowns impacted your IP phone system, resulting in dropped calls or a busy signal? What if customers were unable to reach your e-commerce site?
Firewall and intrusion prevention systems (IPSs) are not effective at blocking DDoS attacks. On the contrary, a DDoS attack can overwhelm firewall and IPS connections, making your online operation more vulnerable to security threats. Many older security tools would be unable to distinguish malicious users from legitimate users. Also, when firewall and IPS connections are exhausted, legitimate users will be unable to connect to the network.
Organizations need strategies and tools for monitoring their networks for DDoS attacks and responding swiftly and effectively. The faster you recognize the attack, the greater your chances of minimizing damage. Let Mainstream help you implement a holistic approach to detecting suspicious traffic, securing network connections and applications, and minimizing the risk and impact of a DDoS attack.
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Mainstream Technologies delivers a full range of technology services in Arkansas and the surrounding region including managed technology services and consulting, custom software development, and cybersecurity services. We also offer industry-leading data center services in our Little Rock facilities. Established in 1996, Mainstream has earned a reputation for delivering quality, reliable, and professional technology services for public and private-sector customers across the United States.
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