IT Brief New Zealand logo
Technology news for New Zealand's largest enterprises
Story image

Kiwi companies aren't prepared for DDoS attacks

By Catherine Knowles
Thu 19 May 2016
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks are proliferating around the globe, impacting big brands and organisations from every sector.

In fact, new research from American technology company Neustar, shows that 73% of more than 1,000 IT professionals from the technology, financial, retail and government sectors suffered a DDoS attack last year, with many of them hit repeatedly, some six times or more.

On top of this, more than half reported some form of theft afterwards, including loss of intellectual property, customer data and money, the research finds.

What is a DDoS?

Vector Communications, the Auckland based company that specialises in building data networks, says DDoS occurs when hundreds, possibly thousands, of compromised computers, start flooding your IT system with an overwhelming volume of data every second. The likely source of this traffic is a botnet, which can be used to generate the massive amount of packets (data) needed to create a successful DDoS attack.

The type of attack may vary, from direct requests to your nodes from infected computers on the botnet to more sophisticated indirect methods like DNS spoofing, where a botnet sends queries to internet name servers while pretending to be one of the servers of the business (with a spoof IP address).

The result is a multiplier, where the hundreds or thousands of compromised computers are able to use name servers to generate a huge volume of data directed at your node.

Whatever form the attack takes, the end result is the same - a huge number of packets will be headed for the business and they’ll be coming from many different sources. That’s the distributed part of the attack, Vector says.

The ‘denial of service’ is when hundreds of thousands of packets per second are concentrated on either the internet connection or the connections of upstream ISP and start to aggregate. At this point something is going to fail and it will happen one of two ways, Vector says.

First, the total DDoS traffic will saturate or exceed the size of the organisation's internet link. While a business has likely planned their bandwidth needs based on reasonable expectations of use, what is happening now isn’t reasonable. If the botnet is blasting the business with 150Mbits/s of spoofed traffic and the connection maxes out at 100Mbits/s, then genuine traffic will be submerged. Performance will be so compromised that the connection will be unusable.

But even if the typical bandwidth needs are high, it’s possible the total amount of packets per second (pps) will exceed the ability of the router to process. Equipment specified to handle 20,000pps may find itself trying to deal with 200,000pps. The reality is few companies have equipment able to handle a huge unexpected spike, which means genuine traffic won’t be able to get through, Vector says.

So, what can Kiwi companies do to survive such an attack?

To minimise long-term damage, businesses need to prepare for the possibility of a DDoS and have robust – and tested – plans in place to mitigate the effects, according to Vector. Even if a business is not deemed to be ‘high profile’ they could still be a target as the motivations of those who launch DDoS attacks are increasingly unpredictable.

Vector has laid out three steps to help stop DDoS attacks:

  1. Know your normal. Monitor and understand what the businesses usual traffic profile is so IT professionals can quickly detect any spikes.
  2. Rally the troops. Ensure upstream ISP has the skills and resources to help when a DDoS occurs. This means choosing a provider that can scale quickly and has advanced DDoS detection techniques and mitigation software.
  3. Test your defences. Run a simulated attack to identify any weak points in the business and provider’s infrastructure and planning.

You’re under attack - what next?

The aim is stop the attack as soon as possible, and the best place to do that is at your upstream ISP provider so the traffic is eliminated before it hits the business connection, Vector says.

If the provider hasn’t already detected the DDoS (which they may do if it is severe enough), it is important for the business to contact their network operations centre (NOC) and give them the news. Then they can either scrub the traffic or block it, Vector says.

Scrubbing involves analysing the traffic and if there’s anything suspicious that looks like it’s come from a DDoS attack, it is quietly dropped (scrubbed) while legitimate traffic is untouched. Not all providers have the ability to scrub traffic and those that do may charge extra for the service so check the options and potential costs as part of planning, Vector says.

If the connection to the ISP is BGP-based (Border Gateway Protocol), and the ISP supports BGP communities that automatically null-route IPs with a specific community tag (Vector says businesses should ask their provider if they do this), then the business can start advertising a /32 route with that tag to the upstream and they will automatically block it. This can be rapid, as it is semi-automated, and won’t require a human response from your provider’s NOC, according to Vector.

If a provider can’t scrub the traffic then blocking is the next best option. It will result in the business network being completely blocked, which is obviously going to result in reduced internet availability, but it will end the DDoS attack, Vector says.

If the scale of the attack is big enough the provider may block traffic without a request from the business; if the packet-per-second level is high enough to saturate their links they’ll act to protect themselves and other customers.

Once you’ve taken these steps, the business has to simply wait it out. A DDoS attack isn’t an infinitely sustainable tactic, so the longer it runs, the more responders learn about the botnets being used to launch it and the more focused the response will become.

Although major attacks lasting days have occurred, the majority of DDoS attacks are of a smaller scale and last from a few minutes to several hours, Vector says.

“Surviving a DDoS attack is all about getting your planning right. You can never eliminate the chance of an attack happening but, if you are targeted, the right mitigation plan - created and tested with your ISP - means you’ll be well-positioned to ride out the storm,” Vector says.

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Employment
Tech job moves - Forcepoint, Malwarebytes, SolarWinds & VMware
We round up all job appointments from May 13-20, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Migration
Let’s clear the cloud visibility haze with app awareness
Increasingly, organisations are heading for the cloud, initiating new born-in-the-cloud architectures and migrating existing applications via ‘lift and shift’ or refactoring.
Story image
Remote Working
Successful digital transformation in the hybrid work era is about embracing shifting goalposts
As organisations embraced remote working, many discovered they lacked the infrastructure needed to support history’s first global load test of remote work capabilities.
Story image
Vectra AI
Understanding the weight on security leader’s shoulders, and how to shift it
Millions of dollars of government funding and internal budgets are being funnelled into cybersecurity to build resilience against sophisticated threats, indicating how serious this issue has become.
Story image
Infrastructure
Nutanix study reveals financial services sector lagging with multicloud adoption
Nutanix has released new research that reveals the financial services sector is lagging behind when it comes to multicloud adoption.
Story image
Qualys
Qualys updates Cloud Platform solution with rapid remediation
The new update is designed to enable organisations to fix asset misconfigurations, patch OS and third-party applications, and deploy custom software.
Story image
Customer experience
Gartner recognises Okta for abilities in Access Management
Okta has announced it has been recognised as a Customers' Choice for the fourth time in a row in the Gartner Peer Insights "Voice of the Customer" report.
Story image
Cybersecurity
NCSC advisory highlights poor security configurations
The GCSB's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has released a cyber security advisory identifying commonly exploited controls and practices.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
CFOs using digital workers and AI to prevent unnecessary loss
New technology is now allowing CFOs to use digital workers to automate their accounting processes, making it easier for them to avoid unnecessary losses.
Story image
Wireless Nation
Wireless Nation, N4L provide 4G network to remote NZ schools
Wireless Nation and Network for Learning (N4L) have rolled out the Rural Connectivity Group’s (RCG) new 4G network to better connect three Chatham Islands schools.
Booster
Booster Innovation Fund. A fund of Kiwi ingenuity – for Kiwi investors.
Link image
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
How to ensure ethical deployment of AI implementations
The increase in automation and machine technology such as AI and machine learning has unlocked a whole new level of scale and service to organisations. 
Story image
Cybersecurity
More than 40% of banks worried about cloud security - report
Publicis Sapient's new report finds security and the lack of cloud skills and internal understanding of business benefits are big obstacles for banks moving to the cloud.
Story image
Apple
Apple previews new features for users with disabilities
Apple says new software features that offer users with disabilities new tools for navigation, health and communication, are set to come out later this year.
Story image
Sisense
Data and analytics could be key to higher selling prices in APAC
Sisense's latest report has found that almost half of data professionals in APAC think customised data and analytics can create better selling prices for their products.
Story image
Vodafone
Vodafone NZ buys remaining stake in retail joint venture
Vodafone New Zealand has purchased the remaining 50% stake in the specialist joint venture (JV) with private equity company Millennium Corp.
Story image
ChildFund
ChildFund launches new campaign to protect children online
ChildFund says WEB Safe & Wise aims to protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse online while also empowering them to become digitally savvy. 
Softiron
For every 10PB of storage run on HyperDrive vs. comparable alternatives, an estimated 6,656 tonnes of CO₂ are saved by reduced energy consumption alone over its lifespan. That’s the equivalent of taking nearly 1,500 cars off the road for a year.
Link image
Story image
Supply chain
Jetstack promotes better security with supply chain toolkit
The web-based resource is designed to help organisations evaluate and plan the crucial steps they need to establish effective software supply chain security.
Story image
Sustainability
Power at the edge: the role of data centers in sustainability
The Singaporean moratorium on new data center projects was recently lifted, with one of the conditions being an increased focus on power efficiency and sustainability.
Story image
Sift
Sift shares crucial advice for preventing serious ATO breaches
Are you or your business struggling with Account Takeover Fraud (ATO)? One of the latest ebooks from Sift can provide readers with the tools and expertise to help launch them into the new era of account security.
Story image
Application Security
What are the DDoS attack trend predictions for 2022?
Mitigation and recovery are vital to ensuring brand reputation remains solid in the face of a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack and that business growth and innovation can continue.
Story image
Digital Transformation
How to modernise legacy apps without compromising security
At a time when digital transformation has become central to business, even the most important applications come with a ‘use-by’ date.
Story image
Lightspeed
Lightspeed launches all-in-one marketing platform in A/NZ
ECommerce provider, Lightspeed has launched a new all-in-one marketing solution, Lightspeed Marketing & Loyalty in Australia and New Zealand.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
AI-based email security platform Abnormal Security valued at $4B
"A new breed of cybersecurity solutions that leverage AI is required to change the game and stop the rising threat of sophisticated and targeted email attacks."
Story image
Malware
New vulnerabilities found in Nuspire’s Q1 2022 Threat Report
“Threat actors are quickly adjusting their tactics and these exploits tend to get industry attention, but the threat posed by older and attacks still persists."
Darktrace
Threat actors are exploiting weaknesses in interconnected IT/OT ecosystems. Darktrace illuminates your entire business and takes targeted action to stop emerging attacks.
Link image
Story image
Microsoft
PwC NZ unveils new Cloud Security Operations Center
PwC New Zealand has unveiled its new Cloud Security Operations Center for the entire Microsoft technology stack.
Story image
Microsoft
New Relic enters multi-year partnership with Microsoft Azure
New Relic has announced a strategic partnership with Microsoft to help enterprises accelerate cloud migration and multi-cloud initiatives. 
Story image
SaaS
Rubrik Security Cloud marks 'next frontier' in cybersecurity
"The next frontier in cybersecurity pairs the investments in infrastructure security with data security giving companies security from the point of data."
Story image
Digital Transformation
Pluralsight and Ingram Micro Cloud team up on cloud initiative
Pluralsight has teamed with Ingram Micro Cloud to build upon cloud competence and maturity internally, and externally support partners’ capabilities.
Story image
Commerce Commission
ComCom appeals $2.25 million fine in Vodafone FibreX case
The Commerce Commission has filed an appeal in the High Court against a $2.25 million fine imposed on Vodafone NZ for its offending under the Fair Trading Act.
Story image
Digital Transformation
The impact of COVID-19 on healthcare environments and care delivery
The COVID-19 pandemic has revolutionised the healthcare industry while overcoming staff shortages, social distancing requirements, and lockdowns.
Story image
Customer experience
Research unveils precarious customer loyalty for retailers
New research has found customers are reassessing established brand loyalties as their priorities and behaviours shift.
Story image
Ransomware
Cybersecurity starts with education
In 2021, 80% of Australian organisations responding to the Sophos State of Ransomware study reported being hit by ransomware. 
Story image
Data Center
Preventing downtime costs and damage with Distributed Infrastructure Management
Distributed Infrastructure Management (DIM) can often be a lifeline for many enterprises that work with highly critical ICT infrastructure and power sources.
Story image
Sustainability
Grasping the opportunity to rethink the metrics of a sustainable data centre
A data centre traditionally has two distinct operations teams: the Facility Operations team, and the IT Operations team. Collaboration between them is the key to defining, measuring, and delivering long-term efficiency and sustainability improvements.
Story image
Cloud Security
Aqua Security createa unified scanner for cloud native security
“By integrating more cloud native scanning targets into Trivy, such as Kubernetes, we are simplifying cloud native security."
Story image
SaaS
Maintaining secure systems with expectations of flexible work
Most office workers feel they've proved they can work successfully from home, and as much as employers try, things aren't going back to the way they were anytime soon.
Story image
Fonterra
Fonterra to use automated guided vehicles by Dematic
New Zealand's dairy giant Fonterra is upgrading its manufacturing facility in Edendale with new automated guided vehicles (AGVs) from Dematic.
Story image
Excel
Could your Excel practices be harming your business?
While Excel has been the de-facto standard for budgeting, planning, and forecasting, is it alone, enough to support organisations in the global marketplace that’s facing rapid changes due to digital transformation?
Story image
Collaboration
Meadows exits Ingram Micro New Zealand on a good note
We look at the resignation of Danny Meadows from Ingram Micro's New Zealand Unified Communications & Collaboration business unit.
Exabeam
Find out how a behavioural analytics-driven approach can transform security operations with the new Exabeam commissioned Forrester study.
Link image
Story image
Cybersecurity
A10 Networks finds over 15 million DDoS weapons in 2021
A10 Networks notes that in the 2H 2021 reporting period, its security research team tracked more than 15.4 million Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) weapons.