25% of DDoS attacks in 2013 will be app-based

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Twenty-five percent of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks that occur in 2013 will be application-based, according to research firm Gartner.

During such incidents, attackers send out targeted commands to applications to tax the central processing unit (CPU) and memory and make the application unavailable.

“2012 witnessed a new level of sophistication in organized attacks against enterprises across the globe, and they will grow in sophistication and effectiveness in 2013,” said Avivah Litan, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

“A new class of damaging DDoS attacks and devious criminal social-engineering ploys were launched against US banks in the second half of 2012, and this will continue in 2013 as well-organized criminal activity takes advantage of weaknesses in people, processes and systems.”

Gartner has identified some of the top 2013 criminal trends and potential safeguards and solutions for firms at risk of attack.

High-bandwidth DDoS attacks are becoming the new norm and will continue wreaking havoc on unprepared enterprises in 2013

A new class of damaging DDoS attacks was launched against US banks in the second half of 2012, sometimes adding up to 70 Gbps of noisy network traffic blasting at the banks through their Internet pipes.

Until this recent spate of attacks, most network-level DDoS attacks consumed only five Gbps of bandwidth, but more recent levels made it impossible for bank customers and others using the same pipes to get to their websites.

“To combat this risk, enterprises need to revisit their network configurations, and rearchitect them to minimize the damage that can be done,” said Litan.

“Organizations that have a critical Web presence and cannot afford relatively lengthy disruptions in online service should employ a layered approach that combines multiple DOS defenses.”

Hackers use DDoS attacks to distract security staff so that they can steal sensitive information or money from accounts

Enterprises subject to DDoS attacks should take steps to mitigate potential damage from these attacks. In particular, Gartner advocates cooperation with industry associations to share intelligence that can be acted on collectively and quickly, as well as enterprise investments in fraud prevention technology and the strengthening of organizational processes.

People continue to be the weakest link in the security chain, as criminal social engineering ploys reach new levels of deviousness in 2013

In 2012, several different fraud scams that took social engineering tactics to new heights of deviousness have been reported, including criminals approaching people in person as law enforcement or bank officers to help them through account migration that then comprised their bank accounts.

Gartner recommended deploying layered fraud prevention and identity-proofing techniques to help stop the social engineering attacks from succeeding.

In particular, fraud prevention systems that provide user or account behavioral profiling and entity link analysis are useful in these cases.

Call center call analytics and fraud prevention software can be deployed to help catch fraudsters committing crimes via social engineering or by using stolen identities. Customers should also be educated on best security practices to help them avoid phishing attacks and social engineering ploys.

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