New sophisticated attacks move goalposts for security industry

The DDoS attack is growing in popularity as motivations for cyber crime continue to evolve.

Given the recent spate of outages and the attention that the Facebook and Malaysia Airlines Lizard Squad attack received worldwide, the issue of cyber security is once again at the front of the agenda.  Even President Obama made it a key part of his State of the Union address. 

“The Lizard Squad has used its high-profile attacks on the likes of Microsoft, Sony and allegedly Facebook as a marketing campaign to promote its own DDoS Stresser tool,” said NexusGuard Executive Vice President, Bill Barry.

Barry notes that this, and the concept of “political hacktivism” where attackers simply wish to bring down organizations in protest, has moved the goalposts for the security industry.

“If the goal is to take a system down rather than to infiltrate it and steal information, businesses need a completely different layer of protection to stop cyber attackers gaining a stranglehold over them by bombarding the system into submission,” said Barry.

The Lizard Squad has proved, if nothing else, that DDoS attacks are becoming more effective. The methods used by DDoS networks to locate vulnerabilities within security systems are more sophisticated and automated. 

Barry said that leveraging zero-day and zero-plus vulnerabilities in unprotected networks means they are able to recruit and add infected computers to their attack army at an ever alarming rate. 

This increased rate of botnet recruitment not only gives the attacker a flexible arsenal of attacks for causing mayhem, but increases overall effectiveness and success rate of each attacks.

Imagine the leverage a group such as The Lizard Squad could gain by bringing down a betting website on Grand National Day, for example.

The best way to guard against zero-plus attacks to is to always be vigilant and proactively try to identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses in your system before the attackers do.

“For an enterprise this may mean compiling rules and guidelines on what online applications are approved for use and implementing proactive monitoring at an application level to detect abnormalities as early as possible,” said Barry.

“However, this is just the first layer of total protection – an effective defence requires in-depth, tailored implementation, not a one-size-fits-all mitigation solution. With multi-vector attacks all avenues of attack must be detected and mitigated. For example, there is no guarantee that attackers aren’t using a mix of DDoS and hacking – no off-the-shelf product is likely to deal with such an approach effectively. Best practice is to seek the guidance of a security specialist that can design and customize a solution specific to your business.”