India stands first in a list of 50 countries where distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) originate and cybercriminals can get DDoS attacks on hire for Rs. 300 for a three-minute assault.
These were the findings of a research titled ‘The continued rise of DDoS attacks’, conducted by engineers and analysts at Symantec, evaluating data between January and August 2014, based on its 41.5 million attack sensors and records of thousands of events per second in 157 countries.
A DDoS attack is an attempt to deny a service to users by overwhelming the target with activity. Botnets bombard the server with requests which it is unable to understand or process.
It is ‘distributed’ as multiple sources attack the same target. The legitimate user gets messages such as ‘the server is undergoing technical problems and will be right back’.
Any home computer can be part of a botnet due to installation of malicious software.
While the study said 26 of all the DDoS traffic originated in India, (followed by the U.S., Singapore, Vietnam and China), Tarun Kaura, director, Technology Sales, Symantec India, told The Hindu that it did not mean people launching DDoS attacks were located in India, as the attacks were orchestrated remotely.
He said, “It does not mean the hackers are Indians or that the targets are Indians. But it indicated India’s emergence as a hotbed for launching the attacks due to low cyber security awareness and inadequate security practices. This is because sources for the attacks are countries that have a high number of bot-infected machines and a low adoption rate of filtering of spoofed packets.”
In spoofed packets, a sender can make it appear like the data packet has arrived from a different source.
The study further said “booter” services were available on rent so a DDoS attack could be “hired” at Rs. 300 ($ 5) for a few minutes against targets.
Booter services are web-based services that do DDoS attacks for hire at low prices. Higher prices fetch longer attacks and gamers use them as a monthly subscription service to kick at competitors.
DDoS attacks are a favourite with hacktivists and cyber gangs to threaten rivals, settle personal grudges, and to distract IT security response teams.
Most attacked sectors globally are the gaming, software, and media industries.
In future, attacks were likely to increase in mobile and Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and users should protect their servers and know their network’s “normal” behaviour to respond to attacks, the study said.