As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded in 2020, nearly the entire global workforce shifted to a work-from-home posture, students began attending classes online, and commerce became primarily a digital activity. With everyone basically stuck at home, service providers quickly became the lifeblood of connectivity, providing vital networks for learning, entertainment, shopping, communications, and work.
Because of their growing importance as an essential service, service provider networks also became a heightened focus of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. According to the 1H 2020 NETSCOUT Threat Intelligence Report, telecommunications providers were targeted 492,807 times during the first half of 2020. This represents a 25 percent increase over the same period in 2019.
The Threat Intelligence Report found that DDoS attack vectors have been growing in complexity as well. Since 2017, attacks with more than 15 vectors have increased by 2,851 percent. There also has been an increase in throughput (pps) of 31 percent, while attack duration decreased by 51 percent in the first half of 2020 compared with 2019. This adds up to more complex attacks with a smaller window of response time for defenders, pointing to a growing threat for the industry and a need for better measures to mitigate the risk.
The Stakes Are High
Service providers have a lot at stake. Massive investments at the edge, with increasing requirements for greater automation and intelligence, are creating highly complex environments that put a premium on network, service, and customer availability. The rapid adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) devices also contributes to risk from attacks.
As DDoS attacks proliferate, providers face the unsavory prospect of service downtime, customer churn, and escalating transit and mitigation costs that are ultimately borne by the customer. These cumulative costs are what is known as the “DDoS attack coefficient.”
With DDoS attacks evolving faster than ever before, it is increasingly imperative to put in place an infrastructure mitigation strategy to maintain the availability and performance of networks and services. Such a strategy should provide automated DDoS protection and intelligent, orchestrated mitigation of complex, multivector DDoS attacks.
Service providers may be the targets of these DDoS attacks, but as a result, their customers are directly impacted—and may very well also be an intended target. This presents a revenue opportunity for providers who can offer managed DDoS protection services for their customers.
The bottom line for service providers is that DDoS attacks represent a clear and present danger. The evolving nature of these attacks requires greater vigilance and awareness. Keeping up with and staying ahead of the perpetrators requires gaining critical insights into attack activity worldwide. Having this information in hand is key to fending off future attacks.
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