SMBs at risk of a Distributed Denial of Service attack?

Last week, Dyn, a cloud-based interest performance management company, was the target of a series of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. These attacks interrupted service on more than 80 popular websites including CNN, The New York Times, Twitter, Electronic Arts, Airbnb, PayPal, Visa, Slack, Yammer, and Pixlr. The variety of the aforementioned sites illustrates the central role a traffic manager can play in the critical infrastructure of the internet. The company released a statement concerning the attack. The SMB market is vulnerable to such attacks, although on a smaller scale to the Dyn attack, and it pays to safeguard against such incidents.

 What is a DDos?

A DDoS is an attempt to make an online service unavailable by overwhelming it with traffic from multiple sources. In the case of Dyn, the attacks were coordinated via numerous Internet of Things (IoT) enabled devices such as cameras, routers, and even baby monitors. They were infected with malware that allowed for the IoT devices to be controlled remotely and send millions of malicious requests to Dyn. An analogy would be to the single toll booth that needs to collect fares from every car in several queues, converging from all lanes at the same time. The system becomes inundated and traffic grinds to a halt. A DDoS attack can be targeted at a small business that relies heavily (perhaps solely) on web traffic to generate revenue. If customers cannot reach a website due to heavy traffic, they cannot engage in commerce and a business loses out on revenue.

SMB Security spending (US)

 According to AMI’s Global Forecast Model, total security spending by the SMB market in the US is heavily directed toward the VPN/Firewall category, with 54% of spending going toward both on-premises and cloud-based solutions. This technology works to examine and authenticate information to determine whether to allow it to go forward.

 smb-spend-us

 

Spending across all five categories has increased over the past three years and that trend will continue through the end of the decade. Security spending is closely tracked by AMI and we regularly update our figures to show the increased importance SMBs place on safety.

Defense

There are a number of options available to protect against such attacks. More familiar examples include firewalls that can have basic rules established to regulate traffic as well as rate-limiting devices such as routers and switches. A more advanced detection and response technology is called Upstream filtering. In such a setup, all web traffic is passed through a “cleaning center” where undesirable traffic is separated out and desirable traffic is allowed to pass. Providers of Upstream filtering include AT&T, Sprint, Verisign, and Verizon.

The case for protection is always one of cost. In theory, the more you spend the more you get. However, with cyber attacks on the rise and the sophistication of said attacks ever increasing, some degree of protection is warranted, justified, and highly recommended. Service providers will be well advised to create solutions that the SMB space can afford without sacrificing quality. SMBs in turn will be wise to determine the level of protection their business warrants. All online businesses need to be aware of the threat environment and safeguard key assets. A DDoS attack can have far reaching implications and preventing exposure can be beyond the realm of control for any one business. The best we can do is remain vigilant and try to stay at least one step ahead of those who mean us harm.

Andrew Svonavec | Associate

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