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Lightning Strikes Twice: Most DDoS Attackers Come Back to the Same Crime Scene

After launching a successful DDoS attack, what is stopping a hacker from going after the same victim again?

The initial DDoS trends of 2014 show that DDoS attacks are on the rise. These attacks affect both first-time victims and repeat victims.

There is a dangerous misconception that hackers never return to the scene of the crime. New research shows that this rumor could not be more inaccurate. In reality, about two thirds of DDoS victims are hit at least twice.

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This startling statistic has experts in the security industry concerned for a couple reasons.

First, it shows that hackers are becoming bolder—they are finding more ways to hide their identities to avoid being apprehended by the cyber authorities. Without fear of capture, hackers are more willing to carry out bigger and nastier attacks.

Additionally, the research demonstrates a general naiveté among website owners about the security of their property. They might believe hackers would not have the gall to hit them a second time, when in fact the opposite is true. Once a website’s vulnerabilities are exposed, the hacking community jumps at the opportunity to take advantage of their known weaknesses.

Without a DDoS protection infrastructure in place, there is no deterrent to motivated hackers from attacking again.

DDoS Bot Landscape

One potential explanation (or, at least a symptom) of the high rate of repeat cyber attacks is the dramatic increase in DDoS bot activity on the web.

DDoS bots are essentially hacker minions – Trojan infected personal computers, hosting servers and other connected devices. Once commandeered, these innocent devices can be manipulated to accomplish the hacker’s deviant goals, including sending out a flood of DDoS requests, some attacking more than 50 websites per month.

In the first months of 2014, DDoS security provider Incapsula noted a weekly average of 12 million unique DDoS bot sessions; an increase of over 240% in the same span of time in 2013.

More DDoS bots mean more attacks and more firepower at a hacker’s disposal. These bots are typically used for Application Layer attacks—a sophisticated DDoS method that can bypass most traditional cyber defense methods. It is difficult even for developed security systems to separate malicious bot requests from innocent ones.

Getting Serious About Your Security

Taken together, the high volume of repeat attacks and the increase in malicious bot activity should send warning signs to owners of all types of websites.

Due to the vast amount of available DDoS resources, hackers are targeting websites both big and small—extracting DDoS ransoms and carrying out attacks on behalf of industry competitors. Small websites and businesses can no longer “fly under the radar” in a cyber landscape built upon transparency.

Websites that don’t learn from their mistakes may find themselves in a perpetual cycle of DDoS attacks. When hackers smell blood in the water, the feeding frenzy begins.

If your online business has been victimized of a DDoS attack, ensure that your defenses are fortified for the next time the hacker comes looking for trouble.

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