DDoS Attack Surge in First Half of 2023

Cybersecurity firm NetScout has released a threat intelligence report revealing an increase in Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks in the first half of 2023.

DDoS is a network disruption in which adversaries flood servers with internet traffic to slow or shut down websites. This technique causes online sites and services to become unusable, significantly affecting organizations and businesses relying on web-based assets.

The report says that cybercriminals have launched around 7.9 million DDoS attacks, accounting for a 31 percent increase year-over-year.

Other findings included the rise in “carpet-bombing” attacks affecting hundreds to thousands of hosts and an increase in “water-torture attacks,” which exploit vulnerabilities in domain name system (DNS) servers.

The report also found escalations in cyber disruptions to higher education, state sectors, and local governments, and the persistent rotation of abusable infrastructures and resources the DDoS aggressors leverage to attack.

Attacks ‘Evolving, More Dynamic’

According to NetScout, international defense events such as NATO bids and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine were linked to the surge in DDoS attacks.

Such instances include the attack of pro-Russian hacktivists on Finland as the country processed NATO induction in 2022. Hungary and Turkey also encountered separate DDoS attacks when they opposed the Finnish bid.

Sweden experienced similar assaults as it prepared to join NATO this year, with the nation incurring most attacks in May.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg looks on as Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto and Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde bump fists during a joint press conference. Photo: AFP

The company noted that DDoS attacks have been “ideologically” targeting other defense players, including the US and Ukraine, on top of the aforementioned cases.

In the second half of 2022, NetScout recorded a trend of DDoS attacks against wireless telecommunications providers, incurring a 79-percent global increase.

This trend continued among Asia Pacific providers in the first half of 2023 with a 294 percent increase, most of which have been associated with gaming consumers that shifted activities to 5G fixed wireless access rolled out by their providers.

“While world events and 5G network expansion have driven an increase in DDoS attacks, adversaries continue to evolve their approach to be more dynamic by taking advantage of bespoke infrastructure such as bulletproof hosts or proxy networks to launch attacks,” NetScout Senior Threat Intelligence Lead Richard Hummel explained.

“The lifecycle of DDoS attack vectors reveals the persistence of adversaries to find and weaponize new methods of attack, while DNS water torture and carpet-bombing attacks have become more prevalent.”

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