NETSCOUT Report Reveals a Surge in Global DDoS Attacks

Increased attacks highlight the need for insurers to safeguard against cyberattacks and its consequences

NETSCOUT Systems Inc., a leading provider of cybersecurity solutions,  unveiled its latest findings on the alarming rise in distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks worldwide. The 2H2023 DDoS Threat Intelligence Report from NETSCOUT identifies a significant uptick in cyberattacks, with more than 7 million incidents recorded in the latter half of 2023, marking a 15% increase from earlier in the year.

The report, which draws on data from 214 countries and territories, 456 industries, and over 13,000 Autonomous System Numbers (ASNs), attributes this surge to an escalation in hacktivist activities and a notable rise in DNS water torture attacks. These trends highlight a complex and evolving cyber threat landscape where adversaries exploit service providers, enterprises, and end-users globally.

Cybersecurity Ventures expects global cybercrime to cost the economy US$10.5tn annually by 2025. The costs of cybercrime are not limited to damage, destruction and theft of data and intellectual property, but also lost productivity, disruption and reputational damage, as well as possible costs for forensic investigation and restoration of hacked assets.

Richard Hummel, threat intelligence lead for NETSCOUT comments on the potential far-reaching implications of DDoS attacks against the financial sector: “In the past year, the marked increase in DDoS attacks launched by hacktivist groups such as NoName057(016) and Anonymous Sudan has contributed to the financial services and insurance industries being among the most targeted sectors. The major nationwide disruptions threat actors can cause when attacking these services make these industries an appealing target for cybercriminals seeking to disrupt services for as many users as possible.

“When so much is at stake for organisations operating in the financial sector, they must be assured that their network is secure and adequately protected. Failing to ensure the proper measures have been taken – that is, implementing a capable DDoS defence system – can result in damage to customer relationships and, worst case scenario, loss of business and reputational damage for financial institutions.”

Hacktivism on the Rise

The report details a dramatic increase in hacktivism, with groups such as NoName057(016) and Anonymous Sudan intensifying their DDoS campaigns. These groups have been particularly active in geopolitical hotspots, launching targeted attacks in response to political developments. Noteworthy incidents include a 30% rise in DDoS attacks in Peru linked to protests against the release of former President Fujimori and a spike in Poland at the year's end, tied to the country’s reaffirmed support for Ukraine amidst its conflict with Russia.

Anonymous Sudan has also made headlines by targeting social media platforms like X (formerly Twitter) to influence policies related to global internet access, such as the provision of Starlink service in Sudan.

The Rise of DNS Water Torture Attacks

A worrying trend identified in the report is the sharp increase in DNS water torture attacks, which have grown by 553% since the first half of 2020. These attacks, which flood DNS servers with queries, are particularly damaging as they target the internet’s core infrastructure, causing widespread disruption.

Gaming and Gambling: Prime Targets

The gaming and gambling sectors continue to be prime targets for DDoS attacks, with these industries facing the highest proportion of incidents. In 2023 alone, over 100,000 attacks were launched against gaming enterprises and more than 20,500 against gambling operations. The financial incentives and competitive nature of these industries make them attractive targets for cybercriminals looking to disrupt major online events and tournaments.

Financial Services Highly Vulnerable

The financial services and insurance sectors have also seen an uptick in cyberattacks. Richard Hummel, senior threat intelligence lead at NETSCOUT, emphasised the severe impact these attacks can have. "The financial services and insurance industries, being among the most targeted sectors, face major disruptions that can extend nationwide, affecting countless users," Hummel explains. He stresses the importance of robust network security to protect against potential losses in customer trust and business integrity."


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