SecurityBrief Australia logo
Australia's leading source of cybersecurity and cyber-attack news
Story image

Will consumers get caught in the crossfire of a DDoS attack?

Tue 8 Nov 2016
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Recently, hacktivists from Lizard Squad launched an alleged DDoS attack against Blizzard's Battle.net leaving players unable to log in to popular games such as Overwatch, Hearthstone and World of Warcraft. DDoS attacks, or Distributed Denial of Services, occur when a malicious entity floods a network with fake traffic designed to cripple and take down the company's server and not only are consumers affected but they can often get caught in the crossfire.

Besides having problems logging in, Overwatch players were also disconnected from matches. In 2014, Lizard Squad successfully shut down the online Xbox and Sony PlayStation gaming networks, which caused major outages during peak holiday gaming season and went as far as issuing a bomb threat on Sony executives.  

More recently, Lizard Squad has used its LizardStresser botnet consisting of a large number of Internet of Things (IoT) devices (namely compromised web surveillance cameras), to launch multiple, large DDoS attacks against various sites related to the 2016 Rio Olympics. 

The reality is that just about every geopolitical event and social movement now has its “Cyber Reflection” in the cyber world. The 2016 Rio Olympics was such an event. As human activists protested in the streets of Rio de Janeiro, cyber hacktivists launched DDoS attacks against the networks and websites of entities such as Brazilian banks, ISPs and sponsors who were either directly or tangentially related to the supporting the Rio Olympics.  

Swimming Australia's website was also hit by a DDoS attack during the Rio Olympics. The ABC reported that the site was operating in an "under attack" mode in the wake of Olympic gold medallist Mack Horton's comments about his Chinese competitor Sun Yang being a drug cheat.

In another politically motivated attack in August, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) claimed that a series of DDoS attacks, which led to the census website being shut down for over 24 hours, were part of a deliberate attempt to sabotage the national survey that was unpopular due to concerns over privacy. 

The Cyber Reflection is a global phenomenon that can affect any organisation with an Internet presence – all it takes is to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Not only does it impact the target business entity, but unfortunately, it also affects the consumers of those entities.  

Consumers get caught in the crossfire all the time.  It’s known as the “collateral damage” of a DDoS attack.  For example, the attacker may be targeting a specific online retail company, because they are disgruntled over a prior transaction – or a sponsor of the Rio Olympics.  The attack impacts not only the online retailer, but also all those consumers who are trying to transact with the online retailer. 

The chart above comes from Arbor Networks’ most recent Worldwide Infrastructure Security Report (WISR) and offers a rare view into the most critical security challenges facing today’s network operators. Based on survey data provided by service provider, enterprise, cloud, hosting and other network operators from around the world, this annual report provides real-world insight into the security threats that organisations face.

The survey asked service providers which verticals they see as being targets of DDoS attacks. As noted above, it’s across the board. In other words, any online, cloud-based service can be the target of a DDoS attack (for whatever reason). The innocent consumers of these service-providers whether they are shoppers, gamers, students or e-traders use online services and are therefore impacted, meaning the “collateral damage” can be much wider than expected.

In a growing number of cases, DDoS is being used as a smokescreen.  DDoS is being used to cover up fraudulent wire transfers, exfiltration of confidential data (i.e. credit cards, health care records). Unfortunately the consumers of these services are impacted just as much as the target organisation.

Sadly, this is the new normal and anyone could be affected by current events through a DDoS attack. Anyone, with no technical knowledge, can now launch a DDoS attack against any organisation that they think deserves it and the consumer can absolutely get caught in the crossfire. For a very modest fee, (around $5 per hour) attackers can employ one of the many DDoS attack services and tools, point it to their target and cause significant damage – potentially having a much greater impact than a small group of protesters could achieve in the physical world.

Take a Step Back

Here’s the lesson for everyone: pay attention to what’s happening in the real world. Keep an eye on the news for geopolitical events that could provide the motivation for the next attack, such as the recent Australian Census, The Federal Election or even the Melbourne Cup for those that want a ban on horse racing after a greyhound racing ban was achieved in NSW, and later reinstated.  

Here are some useful tips for consumers to avoid being caught in the crossfire:

  • Don’t rely 100% on the online service being reliable and have a backup plan in place (i.e. visit a real store, have hard copies of your bank account, trades and so on)
  • Keep an eye on your credit card transactions and look out for fraudulent activity due to a potential compromise of your data
  • Before you sign up with a cloud service ask about their DDoS protection.

If you suspect that you could be a target or have been caught in the crossfire of an attack, then these few tips can help you understand the potential threat and help you protect yourself.

The best way to stay safe is to remain vigilant. You should never click on links sent to you via unknown email addresses and you should do everything you can to avoid less-than-reputable websites. To protect yourself, you should consider investing in cyber security software. These tools help to catch the malware used to bring innocent consumers’ computers into botnets, ensuring that you and your family are as safe as you possibly can be while online.

Article by Scott Crane, director of product management for ATLAS, Arbor Australia

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Cybersecurity
Delinea’s Joseph Carson recognised with OnCon Icon Award
Delinea chief security scientist and advisory CISO Joseph Carson has been recognised as a Top 50 Information Security Professional in the 2022 OnCon Icon Awards.
Story image
Documentation
Adobe study finds lack of digital trust and utilisation in Australian Government agencies
New research commissioned by Adobe has revealed a significant lack of digital trust within Australian Government departments, along with the continued underutilisation of key digital processes.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Eight top DevSecOps trends to support IT innovation in 2022
The use of DevSecOps practices is growing, as it is increasingly seen as the best way to produce high-quality and secure code. So what are the current trends?
Story image
Digital Fingerprint
Decline in counterfeit cherries after digital fingerprinting
Reid Fruits says there’s been a dramatic decline in counterfeit products for its cherries over the past three export seasons to Asia because of digital fingerprinting.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Vectra AI named as AWS security competency partner
Threat detection and response company Vectra AI has announced that it has become an Amazon Web Services Security Competency Partner.
Story image
Ransomware
Secureworks reveals new information on BRONZE STARLIGHT threat group
New research from Secureworks has uncovered new information on the Chinese threat group BRONZE STARLIGHT and how they are using targeted ransomware to initiate complicated attacks.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Threat actors ramp up their social engineering attacks
As people get better at identifying potential threats in their inbox, threat actors must evolve their methods. Their new M.O? Social engineering.
Story image
Cybersecurity
FIDO Alliance releases guidelines for optimising UX with FIDO Security Keys
The new guidelines aim to accelerate multi-factor authentication deployment and adoption with FIDO security keys.
Story image
Enterprise Resource Planning / ERP
Five ways your ERP is letting you down and why its time for a change
Wiise explains while moving to a new system may seem daunting, the truth is that legacy systems could be holding your business back.
Story image
HP Inc
Firmware attacks significant threat in age of hybrid work
Changing workforce dynamics are creating new challenges for IT teams around firmware security, according to new research.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Zscaler launches co-located data centres in Canberra and Auckland
The investment will offer public and private sector enterprises greater resilience in support of their zero trust cybersecurity posture.
Story image
Compliance
SentinelOne integrates with Torq to empower security teams
"With Torq, security teams can extend the power of SentinelOne to systems across the organisation to benefit from a proactive security posture.”
Story image
Research
New study reveals 51% of employees using unauthorised apps
The research shows that 92% of employees and managers in large enterprises want full control over applications, but they don't have it.
Story image
Attack
Phishing attacks are making a comeback
No matter what approach or tool cybercriminals use to breach a network, they all have one thing in common: access.
Story image
Oracle Cloud
Commvault, Oracle to deliver Metallic Data Management as a Service
"We are excited to partner with Commvault and enable our customers to restore and recover their most mission-critical cloud data."
Story image
Identity and Access Management
Ping Identity launches corporate venture capital fund
Ping Identity has launched a corporate venture capital fund to foster innovative offerings for the identity security market.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Tech and data’s role in the changing face of compliance
Accenture's study found that 93% of respondents agree or strongly agree new technologies such as AI and cloud make compliance easier.
Story image
Cloud Security
Palo Alto Networks bolsters cloud native security offerings
Latest Prisma Cloud platform updates help organisations continuously monitor and secure web applications with maximum flexibility.
Story image
Payroll
How New South Wales state departments achieved cloud migration success
State departments in New South Wales are heading to the cloud to achieve better workflow solutions, and one company is paving the way for their success.
PwC
WSLHD and PwC’s Consulting Business came together to solve through the challenges of COVID-19. A model of care was developed to the NSW Health Agency for Clinical Innovation guidelines with new technology platforms and an entirely new workforce.
Link image
Story image
Cybersecurity
Zero trust security adoption rises 27% in just two years
A survey of WAN managers has revealed that multi-factor authentication and single sign-on are the top zero trust features implemented.
Story image
Internet of Things
ManageEngine wins big in IDC MarketScape assessment
ManageEngine's Endpoint Central service has been recognised as a leader by IDC MarketScape in several categories including Internet of Things device deployments and UEM software for SMEs.
Story image
Compliance
Stock security features inadequate in face of rising risk
"Organisations must proactively find ways of identifying unseen vulnerabilities and should take a diligent, holistic approach to cybersecurity."
Story image
WatchGuard Technologies
Ransomware volume doubled 2021 total by end of Q1 2022
Ransomware detections in the first quarter of this year doubled the total volume reported for 2021, according to a new report. 
Story image
MSP
Video: 10 Minute IT Jams - An update from CyberArk
Olly Stimpson joins us today to discuss the importance of MSP programmes and how MSP partners are experiencing success with CyberArk.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Juniper study reveals top AI trends in APAC region
Juniper's research shows an increase in enterprise artificial intelligence adoption over the last 12 months is yielding tangible benefits to organisations.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Aqua Security, CIS create software supply chain security guide
Aqua Securityand the Center for Internet Security have together released the industry’s first formal guidelines for software supply chain security.
Story image
Tech job moves
Tech job moves - ActiveCampaign, Arcserve, LogRhythm & Qlik
We round up all job appointments from June 17-22, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Digital Transformation
Cybersecurity priorities for digital leaders navigating digital transformation
In recent years, Asia-Pacific has especially been a hotspot for cyberattacks, and as we continue into 2022, it’s evident that the problem is becoming more significant.
Story image
API
Industry-first comprehensive risk-based API security enhances protection
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) have become a crucial part of operating web and mobile application businesses and are causing significant economic growth in the digital sector.
Story image
Internet of Things
Domino's Pizza: A blueprint for secure enterprise IoT deployment
Increasingly, organisations are embracing smart technologies to underpin innovations that can enhance safety and productivity in every part of our lives, from industrial systems, utilities, and building management to various forms of business enablement.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Ingram Micro launches vendor-backed security program
Ingram Micro has unveiled a new program intended to give resellers the effective offerings their customers need to stay safe in the evolving threat landscape.
Story image
Cyber Criminal
Identity and access: the fight is on
Blue team defenders are used to protecting our data, applications, and users with access controls and other security mechanisms, which is why attacks like this are especially challenging when they target identity and access control systems.
Story image
Digital Transformation
What CISOs think about cyber security, visibility and cloud
Seeking to uncover the minds of CISOs and CIOs across Asia Pacific, my company recently asked Frost & Sullivan to take a snapshot of cloud adoption behaviour in the region.
Story image
State Library of Victoria
State Library of Victoria entrusts Oracle support and security to Rimini Street
“Our finance team are very happy with the support and security that Rimini Street provides, which keeps our assets and our customers secure."
Story image
Cybersecurity
Email threats spike 101%, remains a top attack vector
"Each year we see innovation in the threat landscape, but each year email remains a major threat to organisations."
Story image
Ransomware
Businesses unprepared to defend against ransomware attacks
Ransomware attacks continue to impact organisations worldwide with high costs, but businesses are still largely unprepared.
Story image
Secure access service edge / SASE
Cloudflare adds new capabilities to zero trust SASE platform
New features for Cloudflare One include email security protection, data loss prevention tools, cloud access security broker, and private network discovery.
Story image
Amazon Web Services / AWS
Zscaler, AWS accelerate onramp to the cloud with zero trust
Zscaler has announced an extension to its relationship with Amazon Web Services, as well as innovations built on Zscaler's Zero Trust architecture.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Vulnerable APIs costing businesses billions every year
Large companies are particularly vulnerable to the security risks associated with exposed or unprotected APIs as they accelerate digital transformation.  
Story image
Gartner
Gartner's top recommendations for security leaders
"Leaders now recognise that major disruption is only one crisis away. We can’t control it, but we can evolve our thinking, philosophy, program and architecture.”
Story image
Trend Micro
5G network projects driven by improving security and privacy
Trend Micro's new study reveals the prospect of improved security and privacy capabilities are the main motivations behind private 5G wireless network projects.
PwC
PwC's Consulting Business and PwC's Indigenous Consulting are proud to play an important role in helping Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience build IMAGI-NATION, a free online university for marginalised communities around the world.
Link image
Story image
Network Security
Netskope announces zero trust network access updates
Customers can now apply zero trust principles across a range of hybrid work security needs, including SaaS, IaaS, private applications, and endpoint devices.