Celebrity photo hacking is nothing next to these DDoS attacks

Everyone will be asking network admins about iCloud backup, but recent Arbor Networks data suggests there are bigger concerns

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I don’t usually get calls from TV stations on holiday weekends, but after naked pictures of famous actors such as Jennifer Lawrence started popping up online, both the CBC and CTV wanted me to come on talk about the potential risk of iCloud backup. It is almost certain they would never be as excited about volumetric DDoS attacks, though they probably should be.

Any network administrators who might have missed it amid summer vacations and back-to-school preparations would do well to take a look at the following data from Allstream partner Arbor Networks, which outlines trends in distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks during the second quarter of this year.

As the data in this deck indicates, there is a noticeable rise in DDoS attacks based on network time protocol (NTP), which essentially synchronize clocks on a network in order to dramatically amplify the volume of traffic that is used to flood the victim’s servers. To put it in perspective, big-volume DDoS attacks used to mean 100 Gbps. Arbor is now seeing attacks of 300 Gbps or more.

In a recent blog post about its Q2 data, Arbor Networks suggested no one can afford to feel too comfortable if NTP attacks continue to rise.

“The overall frequency of very large attacks continues to be an issue, and organizations should take an integrated, multi-layered approach to protection,” the company said. “Even organizations with significant amounts of Internet connectivity are now seeing that capacity exhausted relatively easily by the nature of today’s attacks.”

What this means is that for the rest of this year and beyond, volumetric attacks — a way of consuming bandwidth and causing congestion. will become a big priority for those protecting IT infrastructure. The more awareness about this issue, the better. Otherwise there are going to be plenty of organizations who might find themselves feeling even more exposed than Jennifer Lawrence.
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