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DDoS Perpetrators Changed Tactics in Q3 2013 to Amplify Attack Sizes and Hide Identities

October 23, 2013 No Comments

SOURCE: Prolexic Technologies

HOLLYWOOD, FL – (October 23, 2013) – Prolexic Technologies, the global leader in Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) protection services, today reported that DDoS perpetrators changed tactics in Q3 2013 to boost attack sizes and hide their identities. This observation is one of many key findings found in the company’s Q3 2013 Global DDoS Attack Report, which was published today, and can be downloaded from

“This quarter, the major concern is that reflection attacks are accelerating dramatically, increasing 265 percent over Q3 2012 and up 70 percent over Q2,” said Stuart Scholly, president of Prolexic. “The bottom line is that DDoS attackers have found an easier, more efficient way to launch high bandwidth attacks with smaller botnets and that’s concerning.”

Attackers are flocking to so-called distributed reflection denial of service (DrDoS) attacks as they provide the benefit of obscuring the source of the attack (anonymity), while enabling the bandwidth of intermediary victims to be used, often unknowingly, to multiply the size of the attack (amplification). In DrDos attacks, there are always two victims, the intended target and the intermediary.

Prolexic’s latest report reveals that the total number of attacks against its clients in Q3 2013 remained high and represented the highest total for one quarter. This occurrence illustrates a consistently heightened level of DDoS activity around the world over the last six months. Of note, more than 62 percent of Q3 DDoS attacks originated from China, far surpassing all other countries. Findings are based on data gathered from attacks launched during the quarter against Prolexic’s global client base.

For the quarter, peak bandwidth averaged 3.06 Gbps and peak packets-per-second (pps) averaged 4.22 Mpps. The largest attack Prolexic mitigated during Q3 was directed at a European media company, peaking at 120 Gbps.

Summary highlights from Prolexic’s Q3 2013 Global DDoS Attack Report

Compared to Q2 2013

  • * 1.58 percent increase in total DDOS attacks
  • * 6 percent decrease in application layer (Layer 7) attacks
  • * 4 percent increase in infrastructure (Layer 3 & 4) attacks
  • * 44 percent decrease in the average attack duration:  21.33 hours vs. 38 hours

Compared to Q3 2012

  • * 58 percent increase in total DDOS attacks
  • * 101 percent increase in application layer (Layer 7) attacks
  • * 48 percent increase in infrastructure (Layer 3 & 4) attacks
  • * 12.3 percent increase in the average attack duration: 21.33 hours vs. 19 hours

Analysis and emerging trends

Prolexic data for Q3 2013 shows a 70 percent increase in reflection attacks (DNS and CHARGEN) over the previous quarter and a 265 percent increase over the same quarter last year. This rise in DrDoS attacks should come as no surprise, as attack methods that inflict high damage with low effort will always be popular.

“DrDoS attacks don’t require as many bots because the amplification factor is so large,” explained Scholly. “Because less outbound bot traffic is needed, the botnet can be much smaller. This makes it easier for these botnets to fly under the radar unless you know what to look for.”

Prolexic has closely monitored DrDoS attacks for the last 12 months and has correctly forecasted their increasing popularity, as discussed in a series of four white papers on this resurfacing attack methodology.

“Q3 data also shows that infrastructure attacks maintained their share of total attacks, but within this group there was a big jump in UDP attacks and a corresponding drop in SYN attacks,” said Scholly. “Combined with the rise in reflection attacks, this quarter showed a significant shift in attack methodologies that all businesses should be aware of.”

Prolexic’s latest attack report includes a detailed analysis of the trend toward reflection attacks, DrDoS reflection services within the underground marketplace. The analysis examines DrDoS attack methods, tools and services – specifically CHARGEN attacks being integrated into the DDoS threatscape – and provides steps for remediating CHARGEN attacks.

A complimentary copy of Prolexic’s Q3 2013 Global DDoS Attack Report is available as a free PDF download from Prolexic’s Q4 2013 report will be released early in the first quarter of 2014.

About Prolexic

Prolexic is the world’s largest, most trusted Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) mitigation provider. Able to absorb the largest and most complex attacks ever launched, Prolexic restores mission-critical Internet-facing infrastructures for global enterprises and government agencies within minutes. Ten of the world’s largest banks and the leading companies in e-Commerce, SaaS, payment processing, travel/hospitality, gaming, energy and other at-risk industries rely on Prolexic to protect their businesses. Founded in 2003 as the world’s first in-the-cloud DDoS mitigation platform, Prolexic is headquartered in Hollywood, Florida, and has scrubbing centers located in the Americas, Europe and Asia. To learn more about how Prolexic can stop DDoS attacks and protect your business, please visit, follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, and @Prolexic on Twitter.


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