Analysis from Kaspersky has revealed that the number of attacks blocked by the security company's distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) protection in Q4 2018 amounts to only 56% of attacks detected in Q4 2019.
Further investigation of botnet activity reveals that around 28% of attacks happened on weekends, with the share of attacks on Sundays growing by two and a half percentage points - reaching 13%.
In Q4 2019, there were several large-scale DDoS attacks, including ones against financial institutions in South Africa, Singapore and Scandinavian countries.
These cyberattacks were also targeted at the Labour party in the United Kingdom as an attempt to disrupt its digital systems, as well as against Minecraft servers set up in the Vatican.
This demonstrates that DDoS is still a common attack method amongst cybercriminals seeking financial gain or driven by ideological motives, so organisations should be prepared for such attacks and understand how they evolve.
The report highlights that the main trend during the last quarter of 2019 was increased botnet activity on Sundays.
While the growth may seem relatively small (2.5%), the share of DDoS attacks on this particular day of the week had otherwise been the lowest, and consistent, throughout the rest of the year (around 11% of attacks in Q1 and Q3, and 10% in Q2).
In Q4, Thursday turned out to be the day with the least DDoS activity. In general, attacks became more evenly distributed over a week.
Analysis shows that the difference between the most active and the calmest day was only about two and a half percentage points (in the previous quarter, the figure was seven percentage points).
Although the number of DDoS attacks detected by Kaspersky DDoS Protection has grown significantly compared to the same period of 2018, the growth in comparison to Q3 2019 is only marginal (attacks in Q3 2019 equate to 92% of Q4 2019).
There was a more notable rise in so-called smart DDoS attacks, focusing on the application layer and carried out by skilled malefactors (as attacks in Q3 2019 were 73% of those in Q4 2019).
Such an increase was predictable, since November to December is traditionally a popular time for online business and retail activity. However, Kaspersky experts did not identify a spike on Black Friday or Christmas holiday sales days.
“Despite the significant growth in general, the season turned out to be quieter than expected,” says Kaspersky business development manager Alexey Kiselev.
“We didn't see a storm of attacks on certain days because companies expand their activity to engage with customers for the entirety of the holiday period. So there is no need for cybercriminals to launch an attack to coincide with a specific event.
“However, attackers can still find a way to spoil your leisure time, as cybercrime is not an ordinary nine-to-five job, so it is important to ensure that your DDoS prevention solution can automatically protect your web assets,” says Kiselev.