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Cloudflare reports rise in API threats & DDoS shifts
Wed, 10th Jan 2024

Cloudflare, a leading connectivity cloud company facilitating around 20% of the world's Internet traffic, has announced its initial API Security and Management Report, along with its Q4 2023 DDoS Trends Report. These new resources provide crucial insight into online threats' nature and scope, illuminating the rising utilisation and consequent cyber threats facing APIs, as well as an overview of recent DDoS trends.

The API Security and Management Report reveals a marked increase in businesses leveraging APIs, accounting for 57% of all Internet traffic, hence exposing them to a greater number of online threats. Interestingly, the report also indicates a gap in organisations' utilisation of APIs and their ability to protect the data accessed by the APIs. It details an escalation in the utilisation and successful exploitation of API errors and underlines that a third of API mitigations involved blocking DDoS attacks.

Multiple industries rely heavily on APIs, including the IoT platform, rail, bus, taxi, legal services, multimedia/games, and logistics/supply chain sectors. The report discovered that API traffic was highest in Africa and Asia, with the most significant variability in the Middle East. Cloudflare's Web Application Firewall most frequently mitigated HTTP Anomaly, Injection attacks, and file inclusion attacks. Alarmingly, the company found around 31% more API REST endpoints via machine learning than were found through customer-provided session identifiers, indicating the potential danger of "Shadow APIs".

Cloudflare's Q4 DDoS Trends Report probes recent DDoS activities, including the most substantial DDoS attack ever recorded. The report noted an 11-fold increase in attacks on Palestinian websites during the Israel-Hamas conflict, a 117% YoY increase in network-layer attacks, and fresh insights on the most frequently attacked regions and sectors. Additionally, a surge of DDoS activity was identified, aimed at retail, shipment, and public relations websites during the peak retail season of Black Friday and the holidays.

Over 2.2 billion HTTP DDoS requests aimed at Israeli websites were mitigated, with nearly 40% of these targeting the media and newspaper sector. An unprecedented 618-fold increase in attacks on Environmental Services websites was reported, which coincided with the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference. By attack volume, the Crypto industry encountered the most aggressive DDoS attacks, followed by gaming and gambling. Geographically, China witnessed the highest number of network-layer attacks, constituting 45% of all such attacks.

In summary, the reports from Cloudflare emphasise the heightened risks facing the digital sector, especially the rise in API usage and the associated security threats, along with escalated DDoS activities targeting specific industries and regions. As businesses increasingly migrate their services online, these security risks remain a foremost concern, necessitating a proactive response and robust mitigation measures.