DDoS-For-Hire Services Under the Spotlight

DDoS attacks have evolved considerably since the days of old, when attacks were mostly the preserve of bad actors coding in their bedrooms to cause mischief and disruption.  DDoS attacks have now become a cheap method of cyber attack that just about anyone can launch. The rise of DDoS-for-hire botnets has caused an explosion of attacks, partly due to their cheap price point – they can be launched for just a few dozen dollars per month – but also because there is virtually no technical barrier to entry because they require very little knowledge of coding.

But a new report by Kaspersky Lab based on their research into the DDoS black market has revealed how the DDoS-for-hire industry has evolved even further, to become an increasingly commercialised, high-margin business, with attacks yielding profits of 95% for organisers. Kaspersky describes the order page of one service as looking “more like the web page of an IT start-up than a cybercriminal operation.” Like many other online businesses, customers can now choose their price plans, make payments, access their results and launch reports directly from their online accounts. These services are generally self-service, eliminating the need for direct contact between the organiser and the customer. 

In addition, the cost of attacks has never been lower, with one DDoS service advertised on a Russian public forum offering attacks from as little as $50 per day. However, Kaspersky believes the average cost is more like $25 per hour, with cyber criminals making a profit of about $18 for every hour of an attack.

By offering such a low-cost, shared DDoS attack infrastructure, these services have attracted thousands of malicious customers and are responsible for hundreds of thousands of attacks per year. At the same time, criminals continue to seek new and cheaper ways to organise botnets for use in DDoS-for-hire attacks, so the plethora of unsecured connected devices that make up the Internet of Things continues to make life easier for them.

But while the cost of launching an attack has reduced so significantly, the costs incurred by the victims for lost revenue and reputation are significant. One can only imagine how many customers an online store could lose if an DDoS attack takes its website offline for an entire day’s trading.

All this makes for an extremely concerning future DDoS attack landscape. With DDoS-for-hire services evolving so quickly, and the capacity for future botnet-driven DDoS attacks growing incrementally, organizations must stay ahead of the game and take steps to ensure they stay protected. The best way for organizations to mitigate DDoS attacks is using the latest generation of inline, always on, DDoS protection. Alternatively, organisations can access these services through their Internet Service Provider, who can deliver such defences as-a-service to their customers. 

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