How Can a DDoS Attack Be Part of a Security Breach?

A recent study by BitDefender showed that 34 percent of companies in the U.S. were breached in the past year, and 74 percent of the victims don’t know how it happened. That’s a scary statistic, especially in light of how much personal information exists in cyberspace; I can’t help wondering whether some of my sensitive information has already been compromised and sold on the Dark Web; I certainly hope not.

Cyber criminals have many tools of their dark trade, such as phishing, vulnerability exploits, ransomware, malware and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. Of course, a DDoS attack is not a security breach per se, but they are often a means to a breach. A DDoS attack should raise a red flag for IT security teams, not only because it can hamper network performance but also because it can cripple network security.

Although experts agree that large, volumetric DDoS attacks are getting larger, the majority of DDoS attacks are small in scale. That’s because hackers seldom aim to crash a website; more often, they launch short-duration, low-threshold DDoS attacks as a smokescreen for a more nefarious security breach. To install malware or ransomware, a smokescreen DDoS attack need only take down a network firewall or intrusion protection system for seconds or a few minutes.

Such short, sub-saturating attacks can go completely unnoticed. Or, when they are noticed, they can serve as a tool to distract IT security staff from a true security breach. That’s why it’s so critical to deploy a DDoS defense system that detects and blocks DDoS attacks of all types and sizes. A traditional DDoS scrubbing center is insufficient, because it requires human intervention to 1) notice a short, sub-saturating attack and 2) swing out the “bad” traffic to the scrubbing center. The human intervention results in oversights, errors and, most importantly, time delays along the order of 20-30 minutes. Hackers don’t need much time at all to install ransomware or malware, so minutes matter.

When one realizes the connection between DDoS attacks and security breaches, it becomes apparent that all companies can benefit from a DDoS defense system. With the vast and constantly evolving landscape of cyber threats, companies need an arsenal of technology defenses; part of that arsenal should be DDoS protection.

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