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DDoS could disrupt UK’s Brexit negotiations and “lead to outages worldwide”

by Brian Sims

IT security professionals predict that DDoS attacks will grow larger and more significant in the year ahead, and are already preparing for attacks that could disrupt the UK’s Brexit negotiations and cause outages worldwide. That’s according to new research from Corero Network Security.

More than half (57%) of respondents to the company’s in-depth survey of practising professionals believe that the UK’s Brexit negotiations will be affected by DDoS attacks, with hackers using DDoS to disrupt the negotiations or otherwise employing DDoS attacks as a camouflage technique while they seek to steal confidential documents or data.

Many in the industry expect to see a significant escalation of DDoS attacks during the year ahead, with some (38%) predicting that there could even be worldwide Internet outages during the remainder of 2017.

Reassuringly, though, the vast majority of security teams (70%) are already taking steps to stay ahead of these threats, such as putting business continuity measures in place to allow their organisations to continue operating in the event of worldwide attacks.

Criminal extortionists

Despite continued discussions about nation state attackers, security professionals believe that criminal extortionists are the most likely group to inflict a DDoS attack against their organisations, with 38% expecting attacks to be financially motivated. By contrast, just 11% of respondents believe that hostile nations would be behind a DDoS attack perpetrated against their organisation.

This financial motivation explains why almost half of those professionals surveyed (46%) expect to be targeted by a DDoS-related ransom demand over the next 12 months.

Worryingly, 62% believe it’s likely or possible that their leadership team would pay out on such a ransom demand.

“Despite continued advice that victims shouldn’t pay a requested ransom, a worrying number of security professionals seem to believe that their leadership teams would still consider making a payment in the event of an attack,” said Ashley Stephenson, CEO of Corero Network Security. “Corporations need to be proactive and invest in their cyber security defences against DDoS and ransomware in order to protect themselves against such extortion.”

Lower volume attack episodes

While high-bandwidth DDoS attacks continue to dominate the headlines, security professionals are also worried about the smaller, low-volume DDoS attacks of less than 30 minutes in duration. These ‘Trojan Horse’ DDoS episodes typically go unmitigated by most legacy DDoS mitigation solutions, but are frequently used by hackers as a distraction mechanism for additional attacks.

According to the survey results, less than a third (30%) of IT security teams have enough visibility into their networks to mitigate attacks of less than 30 minutes.

A much larger volume of respondents (63%) are also worried about the hidden effects of these attacks on their networks, such as undetected data theft – particularly with the EU GDPR deadline fast-approaching, whereby organisations could be fined up to 4% of their global turnover in the event of a data breach.

With websites being of such vital importance to many organisations in this day and age, losing those websites (even if only for a short period of time) can be severely damaging and may well result in lost business.

It’s perhaps no surprise that business continuity professionals consider potential cyber attacks to be their foremost concern according to the latest Horizon Scan Report published by the Business Continuity Institute.

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