5G Will Increase DDoS Attack Risk

The next generation of wireless communications, known as 5G, is on the horizon. Telecoms providers such as Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T and others are in a race to rollout 5G services that will empower smart devices and the Internet of Things (IoT). Rollouts are planned to start in 2019, but it will likely be into 2020 before it really starts to take hold, depending much upon the availability of compatible phone hardware. It will be a gradual process, but regardless of when the rollout is complete, the associated new telecom infrastructure required to enable it will bring a huge leap in the available bandwidth. This will enable end-users (both machine and human) to experience much faster access and downloads, and share more data across more devices.

That all sounds rosy, but along with the benefits and opportunities come new cybersecurity risks. For example, as more powerful smart devices come online, the networks hosting these devices will have a larger attack surface, which makes them bigger targets for malware, security breaches and, of course, distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. It also increases the opportunity for those devices to be harnessed for the purposes of launching damaging DDoS attacks against other targets.

Corero’s DDoS trends research shows that the vast majority of DDoS attacks are actually sub-saturating, low-threshold, attacks that often “fly under the radar” of legacy DDoS protection. Most legacy DDoS mitigation tools are limited to inspecting only events that cross significant bandwidth thresholds. In the event of an unusually large, suspicious spike in traffic, a legacy DDoS solution will alert IT security staff, who can then manually intervene to redirect (“swing”) the suspect traffic to a scrubbing service, to be cleaned. This is usually after a significant delay, during which the attack successfully impacts its target. Worse still, the smaller sub-saturating attacks often don’t even register on these protection systems. These days scrubbing centers alone are insufficient, cost-prohibitive and cumbersome; in the era of 5G they will be even less effective.

Although high-volume saturating DDoS makes up an extremely small minority of attacks, it is still a concern for many organizations. The rollout of 5G will almost certainly continue the trend of the largest attacks increasing significantly in size, every year, to the point where we can surely expect the first 10 terabits per second attacks sometime soon. Furthermore, the increased bandwidth of 5G networks means that future botnets may not need to harness as many mobile or IoT devices to cripple their targets. And how ironic, that these new advanced networks could actually be crippled by someone renting a DDoS-for-hire service, for a few tens of dollars, which harnesses the power of a botnet that they are unwittingly providing the connectivity for!

Any organization which relies on the Internet for its business, needs to be prepared for the increased cyber risks that 5G brings. In particular though, Internet Service Providers now face a significant challenge, securing their increasingly complex and exponentially faster networks in an era where DDoS attacks that have grown in frequency and sophistication. It is critical that they now prevent DDoS traffic from disrupting their own network-based service offerings, as well as those of their customers.

5G is part of the 4th Industrial Revolution that will power more virtual reality, artificial intelligence, remote surgery, automated machinery, and other future innovations, all of which will rely on highly available connectivity. Downtime for networks that support these critical applications will become ever more disastrous (or, at the very least, much less tolerated).

5G is still a pioneer technology, with as-yet hidden security flaws. When organizations embrace this new wireless infrastructure, they must build in cyber security safeguards. Corero can help your organization prepare for the potential 5G tsunami, by ensuring that you have always-on, real-time, automated and granular DDoS protection.

Corero provides best-in-class, innovative DDoS protection solutions for customers across the globe; to learn how you can protect your organization from the DDoS threat, contact us.

Sean Newman is VP Product Management, responsible for Corero’s product strategy. Sean brings over 25 years of experience in the security and networking industry, to guide Corero’s growing leadership in the real-time DDoS protection market. Prior to joining Corero, Sean’s previous roles include network security Global Product Manager for Cisco, who he joined as part of their acquisition of cyber-security vendor Sourcefire, where he was Security Evangelist and Field Product Manager for EMEA. Prior to that he was Senior Product Manager for endpoint and network security vendor Sophos, after having spent more than 12 years as an Engineer, Engineering Manager and then Senior Product Manager for network infrastructure manufacturer 3Com.