RSA 2012: DDoS Attacks Twice As Likely to Hit US Companies than UK

The research, conducted by VansonBourne – and commissioned by Corero Network Security – took in responses from 300 mid-to large-sized enterprises in both the UK and the US and interestingly reports significantly different results dependent on geography.

Results show that one in three organizations (31%) has suffered at least one Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack in the last 12 months, but that US companies are twice as likely as those in the UK to have experienced an attack: 38% of US companies versus 18% of UK companies.

“This could be a combination of speculation – how the different countries perceive attacks – and actual concrete differences”, Neil Roiter, director of research, Corero, told Infosecurity at RSA. “The UK is less sensitive and thus uses less forensics. Often, people are being attacked and don’t know it. Sometimes, it’s more obvious. With DDoS attacks on gamer networks, I sometimes wonder how they stay in business during the attack”.

The research also revealed a much greater level of concern amongst US enterprises, reflecting the increased exposure of US companies to DDoS attack. Nearly two thirds (63%) of US IT directors said they are concerned about the threat of DDoS attack against just 29% in the UK.

In the UK, political and ideological motivation was considered the largest source of DDoS attack, with a third blaming ‘hacktivism’. This result was particularly prominent in the finance sector. The retail sector in the UK, however, considers financial extortion as the primary intention. Roiter suggests that the UK is more sensitive to hacktivism than the US.

Fifty-two percent of US participants however, named ‘competitors seeking unfair business advantage’ as the leading motivation for DDoS attacks. In contrast, only one in five victim companies in the UK said competitors were responsible.

Whilst levels of concern about the risk of DDoS attacks varied significantly between UK and US respondents, three in five (62%) IT directors claimed to have technology in place to protect their organizations against attack. However more than half (53%) of companies surveyed were still concerned about potential attacks.

“As businesses grow increasingly dependent on the internet to reach customers and interact with partners and suppliers, attackers grow more sophisticated in their means of attack”, said Neil Roiter. “This research reveals that enterprises across verticals are justifiably concerned about being targeted by DDoS attacks, and they should be particularly wary of the new low and slow application-layer attacks, which appear to be legitimate and fly under the radar.”

Richard Stiennon, chief research analyst at IT-Harvest, said that the UK is more cautious in deploying web business assets so are not as exposed as US companies. “As they deploy web applications they tend to do so in a more cautious protected manner and because of this may be experiencing less disruptive DDoS attacks. As the sophistication of attacks rises their numbers will become more in line with the US”.

Discussing Anonymous with Infosecurity, Roiter suggested that while its actions may be considered a form of protest, it is also criminal activity. They may have a Robin Hood quality, and they say they don’t want to hurt people, but they hurt companies. What I can say for them though, is that they have raised awareness of [DDoS] attacks”.






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