While Australian IT security executives name Web site data breaches as their top priority, only 1 in 3 companies rates itself as 'very experienced' in fighting distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks and nearly half have never tested their DDoS mitigation skills.
Those were among the findings of a sample of 163 Australian IT security executives conducted by content distribution network giant Akamai. The company's survey sought to weigh companies' readiness to deal with the increasing flood of DDoS attacks – which were the third most-common concern, nominated by 21 percent of respondents concerned about site unavailability due to DDoS attacks.
This presents a significant risk for companies as DDoS attacks continue to increase in size: this year, the largest recorded DDoS weighed in at 320Gpbs, nearly double the 190Gbps peak recorded last year and four times the 82Gbps maximum recorded in 2012.
Much of the growth has resulted from the increasing use of reflection attacks, which leverage vulnerabilities in commonly used Internet protocols to boost the volume of traffic generated.
The Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) used to monitor and manage networked devices, for example, can be exploited to produce 6.3 times as much data as it is fed while the DNS Internet-naming system can boost data up to 54 times. Network Time Protocol (NTP) can produce over 556 times as much data as it's fed – allowing hackers to generate tsunamis of data and redirect it at victim organisations.
Although the Akamai figures confirmed that DDoS attacks were relatively frequent – 40 percent of respondents said their organisations had experienced such an attack – only 55 percent confirmed having a plan to mitigate DDoS attacks. Eighteen percent said they had no such plan in place, and nearly a quarter were unsure.
These results, Akamai APJ enterprise security director John Ellis said in a statement, were “concerning”.
“In light of today’s heightened security landscape, companies must acknowledge that it is inevitable that they will be the victim of a security compromise in one form or another,” he said.
“Cyber attackers are becoming increasingly sophisticated and, although many Australian organisations are starting to strengthen their security capabilities, this needs to be an ongoing and persistent process to ensure they can safeguard themselves from the rapidly evolving nature of such attacks.”
The implications of this weaker security profile were linked with the security of cloud applications: while 30 per cent of the surveyed organisations were using cloud-based web security solutions to are protecting their cloud applications, 28 per cent of organisations were avoiding using the cloud altogether.
This article is brought to you by Enex TestLab, content directors for CSO Australia.