Verisign noted that since Jan. 1, 2011, DDoS attacks mitigated by the company for its e-commerce customers lasted significantly longer than the DDoS attacks it mitigated for all other customer verticals combined.
The longer time for DDoS attacks targeting e-commerce sites is the result of the complexity of the attacks, the value of the sites, and the persistence of the attackers, said Sean Leach, vice president of technology with VeriSign’s Network Intelligence and Availability Group.
“If it is an e-commerce site that generates the vast majority of its revenue online, the bad guys are going to be very persistent….As web applications become more complicated, so do the attacks that target them”, Leach told Infosecurity.
In a report issued in the spring, Verisign noted that successful DDoS attacks can bring down sites for hours or even days, causing businesses to suffer losses in the millions and damaging a company's brand and customer relationships.
In addition, attacks against the Domain Name System (DNS) result in significant downtime for top-ranked e-commerce sites, according to Verisign’s State of DNS Availability Report for the second quarter of 2011. The report was prepared by ThousandEyes, which calculated the minimum, maximum, and average DNS availability of 1,000 websites during the second quarter.
“The nature of the [DNS] protocol makes it much easier to attack than something like http. Now http is the most commonly attacked protocol…But we are also seeing a large number of attacks against DNS”, Leach said. “If your DNS is down, there goes your availability”, he added.
In addition, the study found that minimum DNS availability averaged 95% for US sites that host their own DNS, while US sites using third-party managed DNS services averaged a minimum DNS availability of 97%. This 2.3% difference in minimum availability equates to 40 more minutes of downtime daily for sites with internally managed DNS, according to the study.
E-commerce businesses can generate 40% to 50% of their revenue during the holiday season, so a 2.3% difference in downtown can make a significant difference, Leach noted. “When would be a better time to attack [than the holiday season], particularly if you are talking about extortion or competitor attacks….It is the time when the bad guys see the most opportunity”, he added.
“What is happening is that e-commerce sites are spending a ton of money on marketing, but they are squeezing their budget when it comes to infrastructure. Especially in the last year with the DDoS attacks, these sites are either in denial or they just don’t know how to protect themselves against these threats”, Leach commented.
Verisign said that businesses that rely on their online presence for critical operations need to invest in secondary DNS management services to act as a failsafe to serve traffic to their websites in the event that the primary DNS management tool becomes unavailable.