Australian and Asia-Pacific businesses are suffering from “inadequate” response times to potentially crippling distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks that are becoming both easier for cybercriminals to launch and more effectively targeted to cause real business damage, according to a newly released global survey of DDoS experiences.
Despite some 49 percent of respondents to Neustar's latest Worldwide DDoS Attacks & Protection Report saying they could lose more than $US100,000 per hour during periods of business interruption – with 33 percent saying the cost would be $US250,000 or more per hour – fully 39 percent of the 1002 surveyed C-suite executives said they had taken 3 hours or more to detect a DDoS attack.
APAC organisations were consistently less effective at detecting DDoS attacks quickly, with just 19 percent reporting they'd found an attack within an hour – compared to 38 percent of respondents in North America and 33 percent in EMEA.
APAC organisations were also slower to respond than their peers, with 31 percent taking 3 to 5 hours to respond after detecting the DDoS (compared with 24 percent globally) – a “ridiculous” delay, Neustar Australia general manager Robin Schmitt told CSO Australia. “Timing is critical in a DDoS attack,” he said.
The potential business impact of DDoS attacks came into sharp focus in Australia after a series of DDoS attacks interrupted Australia's online population census in August. The fiasco – which didn't even register on global DDoS sensors – was attributed to a series of blunders that was attributed to a recipe of poor planning and risk management.
The incident has fostered an ongoing stoush between the federal government and IBM – which recently strengthened its Australian cybersecurity presence – that included the resignations of two Census-affiliated executives and has been blamed for degrading public trust in the government's effectiveness.
Although the consequences of this and other similar failures to block DDoS attacks are becoming increasingly well-understood, just 20 percent of APAC companies said they had responded to a DDoS attack within an hour – well behind the 33 percent enjoying such rapid response times in North America.
The figures suggested that APAC organisations “continue to lag” global response practices, Schmitt said, adding that he is “a bit disappointed” with the slow response from APAC organisations. “The threat is real and the response time is inadequate.”
DDoS attacks usually weren't on-off incidents, either: 85 percent of attacked respondents said they had been subjected to more than one DDoS attack, with 44 percent hit six or more times. Some 5 percent said they were being hit with a DDoS weekly and 3 percent said they were being hit “so frequently, we lost count”.
“DDoS for hire websites can execute an attack for less than the cost of lunch,” the report notes. Yet rapid response to a DDoS attack was not only important to head off subsequent attacks: “Not only do you want to avoid the present implications,” says Schmitt, “but you want to avoid the complications of a multi vector attack.”
The risk of multi-vector attacks has increased over time as DoS becomes used as a smokescreen for other activity. Some 46 percent said they had found a virus after the breach while 16 percent of APAC companies found ransomware after a DDoS attack.
Increasingly voluminous DDoS attacks pose other challenges: while some 21 percent of attacks in the Neustar report fell into the 1 to 5 Gbps range, fully 12 percent involved 10 to 20 Gbps and 7 percent weighed in at between 50 and 100 Gbps; some 2 percent of attacks involved 100 Gbps or more of bandwidth.