Global communications service providers, whose businesses are predicated on continuous availability and reliable service levels, are struggling to fend off a growing number of DDoS attacks against their networks. A lack of timely and actionable intelligence is seen as a major obstacle to DDoS protection, according to A10 Networks.
The critical need for DDoS protection
The A10 Networks study conducted by the Ponemon Institute highlights the critical need for DDoS protection that provides higher levels of scalability, intelligence integration, and automation. Some 325 IT and security professionals at ISPs, mobile carriers and cloud service providers participated in the survey.
According to the report, entitled “The State of DDoS Attacks Against Communications Service Providers,” these service providers have major concerns with DDoS resilience readiness with only 29 percent of respondents confident in their ability to launch appropriate measures to moderate attacks.
DDoS attacks targeting the network layer are the most common form of attack—and the most dangerous to their business, according to respondents. These attacks flood the network with traffic to starve out legitimate requests and render service unavailable. As a result, service providers say they face a variety of consequences, the most serious being end-user and IT staff productivity losses, revenue losses and customer turnover.
85 percent of survey respondents expect DDoS attacks to either increase (54 percent) or remain at the same high levels (31 percent). Most service providers do not rate themselves highly in either prevention or detection of attacks. Just 34 percent grade themselves as effective or highly effective in prevention; 39 percent grade themselves as effective or highly effective in detection.
DDoS intelligence gap
The DDoS intelligence gap was highlighted by a number of survey findings:
- Lack of actionable intelligence was cited as the number-one barrier to preventing DDoS attacks, followed by insufficient personnel and expertise, and inadequate technologies.
- Out-of-date intelligence, which is too stale to be actionable, was cited as the leading intelligence problem, followed by inaccurate information, and a lack of integration between intelligence sources and security measures.
- Solutions that provide actionable intelligence were seen as the most effective way to defend against attacks.
- The most important features in DDoS protection solutions were identified as scalability, integration of DDoS protection with cyber intelligence, and the ability to integrate analytics and automation to improve visibility and precision in intelligence gathering.
- Communications service providers who rated their DDoS defense capabilities highly were more likely to have sound intelligence into global botnets and weapon locations.
“Communications service providers are right, both in their expectations for increased attacks and about their need for better intelligence to prevent them,” said Gunter Reiss, vice president, marketing at A10 Networks. “The continuing proliferation of connected devices and the coming 5G networks will only increase the potential size and ferocity of botnets aimed at service providers. To better prepare, providers will need deeper insights into the identities of these attack networks and where the weapons are located. They also need actionable intelligence that integrates with their security systems and the capacity to automate their response.”
At the same time, many service providers see DDoS protection as a managed service as a significant business opportunity, with a majority (66 percent) of providers saying they were either delivering DDoS scrubbing services or planning to do so. However, the high cost of delivering these services using legacy solutions and making them profitable was seen as a major impediment. Service providers are being forced to find modern approaches that can scale defense in a profitable way.
Other key findings
- DDoS is seen as the most difficult type of cyber attack to deter, prevent and contain.
- Cybercriminals who use DDoS attacks to extort money are considered the biggest risk to service providers, followed by those who use DDoS attacks as a smoke screen for some other cyber attack.
- The network is significantly more likely to be attacked than other layers of a service provider’s infrastructure, such as the application and device layers.
- A majority of respondents say they do not have actionable intelligence into DDoS-for-hire botnets or DDoS weapon locations around the world to help them protect their networks.