Posted on March 20, 2019 at 4:26 PM
DDoS on the Decline: FBI Crackdown Greatly Reduces the Number and Size of DDoS Attacks
DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks have been on the rise in previous years. So much so, that they became quite a massive problem for businesses that were targeted. Further, numerous websites offering DDoS services to others emerged as well, which is one of the reasons why attacks significantly surged in number.
Eventually, the FBI was forced to take action, and the Bureau teamed up with other law enforcement agencies from all over the world. With combined efforts, the team managed to crack down on these DDoS-for-hire services. After months of researching, data collecting, and planning — their efforts resulted in 15 DDoS services being shut down.
It is estimated that these services successfully launched over 200,000 attacks in the past four years, going back to 2014. The consequences of the crackdown are already easy to see — the average size of DDoS attacks dropped by 85%, while the number of successful attacks went down by almost 11% in Q4 2018.
According to researchers, the decrease was attributed to the FBI’s efforts, and the crackdown has been seen as ‘highly effective.’ However, while the 85% decrease in attack sizes includes only the largest attacks, it was also noticed that average-sized attacks have also dropped by 23.91%.
DDoS-for-hire, or booter services, have been making it very easy for anyone to launch an attack on any website on the internet. The attacks work by flooding the targeted website with massive amounts of internet traffic and request for information until the website cannot handle them anymore. When that happens, the site usually gets knocked down.
While it might sound like a simple problem, it actually had pretty large consequences, often resulting in damages that can be measured in hundreds of thousands of dollars. The FBI targeted these services to stop the attacks which were happening almost constantly around the world. Most attacks were smaller than 1 Gbps in size. In addition, the average duration was around 452.89 minutes.
However, the longest attack lasted for 18 days, 21 hours, and 59 minutes. Meanwhile, the largest one was recorded in March of last year, with a strength of 1.3 Tbps. It targeted GitHub, and it lasted for only 8 minutes.
FBI crackdown helped, but the problem remains
While the FBI’s impact is undeniable, it should not be expected that DDoS attacks will stop, or remain low in number and strength. While it is unfortunate, these attacks and services tend to re-emerge whenever authorities make an effort to exterminate them. Even now, DDoS service providers have an alternative method of conducting their attacks. The new method is called SSDP, short for Simple Service Delivery Protocol. This is a method that has become a new trend in recent months, surging by around 48.26% in Q4 2018.
These attacks have become quite a popular method of attacking IoT devices, which have been on the rise in recent years. Internet of Things devices often relies heavily on SSDP in order to be simple to use by consumers. While software updates can make them more resilient to different types of attacks, they are often not updated in time, and even shipped with outdated software, thus arriving vulnerable — and remaining vulnerable.
Apart from SSDP attacks, there was also a significant increase in UDP attacks (14.26%) in Q4 2018, as well as HTTPS flood attacks (9.10%).
These reports show that DDoS attacks are unlikely to go away, and while the hardware/software vulnerabilities are often to blame — a human error also plays a large role in leaving devices vulnerable. The lack of awareness is a much bigger problem, as it makes it much easier for hackers to exploit vulnerabilities and cause damage.