Reports surfaced last week that the UK has now become the world’s second most targeted nation for Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, following a 220% rise in the number of attacks globally in the last year.
While the figures may sound alarming, the rising volume of DDoS attacks is hardly surprising given the proliferation of cheap and easy-to-launch attack tools. Today’s DDoS attacks are almost unrecognizable from the attacks of old. Once the preserve of bad actors coding in their bedrooms to carry out protests and cause mischief, DDoS attacks have now evolved into a cheap method of attack that just about anyone can launch for just a few dozen dollars a month.
It’s crucial to understand the reasons behind the steady growth of DDoS attacks, what makes the UK disposed to such attacks, and how users can stay protected.
Early Warning Signs
Last week’s news mirrored an announcement by the City of London Police in May this year, which warned of a new wave of ransom-driven DDoS attacks orchestrated by Lizard Squad, in which UK businesses were told that they would be hit with a DDoS attack if they refused to pay a ransom. In addition, a recent survey by Corero Network Security revealed that 80 percent of European IT security professionals expect their business to be threatened with DDoS ransom attacks during the next 12 months.
But why is the UK such a target? The motivations for DDoS attacks are endless, from financial and political reasons to extortion and everything in between. Among the possible implications – depending on the scale of the attack or whether it has been used as additional element to a wider breach – are data theft, revenue loss and reputation damage. Considering the size of the UK’s digital economy, and London’s status as a financial center of Europe, it’s not surprising that attackers have put the UK in their crosshairs.