Justin Cosnett, Chief Product Officer at Continent 8 Technologies, talks about the increase in DDoS and Ransomware attacks and why companies should be prioritising cyber security
With cyber attacks rising at an unprecedented rate, it is predicted that cyber crime will cost the world $10.5 trillion annually by 2025.
Globally, there has been a huge rise in the number of cyber attacks over the past 12 months. No business is immune and companies of all sizes are being hit by increasingly sinister and sophisticated events that have the potential to take them offline, causing disruptions to products, services, revenues and reputations.
Significant attacks are being reported almost daily. Recent high profile attacks include a serious ransomware attack against Ireland’s health services forcing the health service to temporarily shut down its IT system, and a cyber attack on major US fuel company Colonial Pipeline which forced the company to shut off gasoline supply to much of the Eastern Seaboard, causing shortages throughout the South.
Here at Continent 8 we have seen a substantial increase in cyber activity globally, as shown in the video below. Not only that, but the severity and longevity of attacks is increasing – we even mitigated the longest DDoS attack in our history lasting 36 hours.
What is a DDoS attack?
Before discussing why the number of attacks is on the rise, the bad actors behind them and how best to protect your business from falling victim to an attack, it is worth briefly defining what is meant by DDoS and Ransomware and how they differ.
A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack is when your website or systems are inundated with so many requests – this can be tens of thousands a minute – that ultimately the servers collapse under the pressure and your website or system is taken offline.
Cyber criminals will often ransom the business prior to launching the attack and if they don’t receive payment will unleash the bots they use to inundate the website or system until it crashes. They will then re-issue the ransom and only when it has been paid call off the bots overwhelming the website or system.
What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is a type of malicious software designed to block access to a device or system until a ransom is paid. But the sophistication of these attacks has been taken to the next level in recent months – instead of blocking access, they are now capturing and exploiting data.
Once cyber criminals have captured this data, they then contact the business and tell them that their valuable data is in their hands and if they do not pay a ransom, the information will be made public.
The Ransomware is injected into the system or device through hacking, phishing emails or other vulnerabilities such as devices connected to public WiFi hotspots.
Who is behind these attacks:
One of the greatest frustrations when it comes to falling victim to cyber crime is that you are unlikely to ever know the organisation or person behind it. That being said, they broadly fall into the following categories:
- Organised crime groups
- Angry people
- Script kiddies
- Nation states
The motivation for attacking businesses differs, but the most common is for financial gain followed by taking down a competitor and causing reputational damage or embarrassment to the organisation being hit.
The impact of a successful attack:
A successful cyber attack is devastating for a business; it can take a business completely offline for several days. It can also see customer databases raided and stolen or sensitive data breached and published for the world to see.
This costs businesses money – the average cost of a data breach in 2020 was $3.86m – but more worryingly it can lead to a poor customer experience and even result in consumers losing trust in your business and going elsewhere.
Another negative impact is that it can reduce employee productivity and in highly regulated industries such as online gambling, lead to a compliance breach which means licences can be at risk.
Why attacks are on the rise:
So why are these attacks on the rise? A main driver is the belief among cyber criminals and hackers that governments, banks and businesses do not have the resources available to successfully thwart an attack.
While this is not true, it could be argued they are not unlocking the full potential of the solutions and services available to them which in turn is making them vulnerable and more likely to fall victim to an attack.
How to protect your business:
These are the key areas of focus when it comes to mitigating a cyber-attack:
Ensuring your primary forms of protection are in place and are as robust as possible. At Continent 8 we talk about a layered approach to security, and primary defences include utilising a private network for hosting and communication, enterprise DDoS and Web Application Firewall (WAF) protection, and ensuring your public and private cloud environments are secure.
Endpoint Protection and Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)
Especially given the remote working situation we have found ourselves in, ensuring an organisation’s infrastructure is not breached, no matter where the perimeter may now be, is crucial. Just as important is ensuring if something untoward happens (such as a breach), the appropriate teams are immediately notified.
The global Endpoint Detection and Response Market is forecasted to grow at a rate of 22.3% from USD 1.41 billion in 2019 to USD 6.98 billion in 2027. In order to reduce their companies’ exposure to risk, EDR technologies are being utilised more and more.
Continent 8’s Managed Threat Prevention, Detection & Response offering is the most complete end-to-end proactive threat protection solution combining advanced SIEM/MDR/EDR/SOAR/Machine Learning technologies with highly-skilled 24/7 SOC resources giving organisations unprecedented visibility and response capabilities against known and unknown threats.
Awareness and education
It has been widely reported that phishing attacks, and other scams targeted to exploit our natural human fears, have increased significantly, especially during the pandemic. As such, companies need to ensure that all staff members, from the board to senior executives, are trained.
Continent 8’s cyber security solutions have been protecting the world’s most valuable information for over 20 years, in one of the most attacked industries globally – iGaming. Our security solutions continue to develop to reflect the ever-changing cyber security landscape. Our team works in partnership with our customers to design bespoke protection services, benefiting from a resilient global network spanning 70 locations and 4 continents.