The UK gets hit by 9.3 per cent of the world’s distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks – second only to the United States.
DDoS attacks deliberately overload a company’s network with fake traffic, primarily from bots, forcing it to come offline and preventing genuine users from accessing its websites or applications. The number of these attacks increased by 211 per cent in the last year, according to a report from cybersecurity firm Imperva.
The increase in attacks was “fuelled by DDoS-for-hire services” the report claims. For as little as $5 (£3.80), hackers can pay to launch a minute-long attack against a target. “These services let anyone launch a short-duration attack – typically an unsophisticated network layer burst of under 30 minutes,” the report said. This type of hack accounted for 93 per cent of the DDoS attacks made in the first quarter of 2016, up from 63.8 per cent in the second quarter of 2015.
The report found that the United States is the most targeted country – 50.3 per cent of all DDoS attacks are directed at the country, while the UK came in second, attracting 9.3 per cent of the global number of DDoS attacks. UK attacks spiked over the Christmas holidays in the UK when “increased cyber extortion attempts caused a boom in criminal activity.”
In the first quarter of 2016, South Korea dethroned China as the main hub for DDoS botnet activity – 29.5 per cent of all attacks originated from there. The report put this down to the explosion of high-speed internet in the country, but noted that “its window of opportunity might be short-lived as the country mobilises more resources for its cyber security investment.” The vast majority of attacks – nearly 88 per cent – lasted less than one hour, but at its peak the worst attack in the last year hit servers with data requests measuring 470 gigabits per second.
Earlier this month Blizzard’s servers were hit by two DDoS attacks. The World of Warcraft and Overwatch developer’s servers went down for around two hours yesterday during the attack.
In January 2016, HSBC customers were locked out of their online bank accounts when the company’s network was hit by DDoS attack. Though the bank took its services offline for the best part of a day, no customer account details were stolen during the hack.