At least 25% of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks that occur in 2013 will be application-based, according to Gartner. During such incidents, attackers send out targeted commands to applications to tax the central processing unit (CPU) and memory and make the application unavailable.
“2012 witnessed a new level of sophistication in organised attacks against businesses across the globe, and they will grow in sophistication and effectiveness in 2013,” says Avivah Litan, VP and distinguished analyst at Gartner.
“A new class of damaging DDoS attacks and devious criminal social-engineering ploys were launched against US banks in the second half of 2012, and this will continue in 2013 as well-organised criminal activity takes advantage of weaknesses in people, processes and systems.”
Gartner has identified some of the top 2013 criminal trends and potential safeguards and solutions for firms at risk of attack.
* High-bandwidth DDoS attacks are becoming the new norm and will continue wreaking havoc on unprepared organisations in 2013.
A new class of damaging DDoS attacks was launched against US banks in the second half of 2012, sometimes adding up to 70Gbps of noisy network traffic blasting at the banks through their Internet pipes.
Until this recent spate of attacks, most network-level DDoS attacks consumed only 5Gbps of bandwidth, but more recent levels made it impossible for bank customers and others using the same pipes to get to their Web sites.
“To combat this risk, organisations need to revisit their network configurations, and re-architect them to minimise the damage that can be done,” says Litan. “Organisations that have a critical Web presence and cannot afford relatively lengthy disruptions in online service should employ a layered approach that combines multiple DoS defences.”
* Hackers use DDoS attacks to distract security staff so that they can steal sensitive information or money from accounts.
Organisations subject to DDoS attacks should take steps to mitigate potential damage from these attacks. In particular, Gartner advocates co-operation with industry associations to share intelligence that can be acted on collectively and quickly, as well as investment in fraud prevention technology and the strengthening of organisational processes.
* People continue to be the weakest link in the security chain, as criminal social engineering ploys reach new levels of deviousness in 2013.
In 2012, several different fraud scams that took social engineering tactics to new heights of deviousness have been reported, including criminals approaching people in person as law enforcement or bank officers to help them through account migration that then comprised their bank accounts.
Gartner recommends deploying layered fraud prevention and identity-proofing techniques to help stop the social engineering attacks from succeeding. In particular, fraud prevention systems that provide user or account behavioural profiling and entity link analysis are useful in these cases.
Call centre call analytics and fraud prevention software can be deployed to help catch fraudsters committing crimes via social engineering or by using stolen identities. Customers should also be educated on best security practices to help them avoid phishing attacks and social engineering ploys.