Largest DDoS Attack Sent Over 500 Million Packets per Second

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A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack discovered by Imperva had unleashed more than 500 million packets per second (Mpps), which is believed to be the largest packets-per-second (PPS) attack on record.

According to research released today, last year’s DDoS attack on GitHub rang in at 1.35 terabits per second, making it the largest DDoS attack ever at the time. According to Imperva, though, the ability to mitigate a DDoS attack has more to do with the number of packets directed at a network than it does with the amount of bandwidth.

“Packets per second is the true measure of the attack intensity, and that is what is difficult to block and recover from,” researchers wrote. “When it comes to DDoS protection, bandwidth is not everything. The most demanding attacks are high-volume PPS attacks, because with more packets to process, you need more network hardware and other resources to mitigate them.”

Attacks with greater PPS are actually more difficult to handle for businesses than large-scale attacks, so cyber-criminals are deploying attacks as small as 10 Gbps with great success. Akamai researchers came to the same conclusion when they took a look back at the DDoS trends of 2018.

“When people think of DDoS attacks, they focus on the outliers, the massive Terabit attacks that generate headlines. But the smaller, more focused attacks can do just as much damage. More importantly, these smaller attacks are actually more common than their larger-scaled counterparts,” said a January 28 Akamai blog post.

In fact, the packets sent in the attacks that were analyzed totaled more than four times the volume of packets sent at GitHub last year, resulting in a depletion of network resources, which researchers say is easy to achieve.

A DDoS attack can be launched within a matter of minutes...and overwhelm the vast majority of websites or enterprise networks,” researchers wrote.

In the DDoS attacks Imperva analyzed, “it was the 500 million packets-per-second torrent directed at our customer – the highest volume ever recorded – that made it so intense, and the real challenge to overcome.”

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