DDoS attacks are being used to target critical infrastructure, warned European law enforcement agency Europol in its 2018 Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment report.
Last year, a DDoS attack crippled train networks in Sweden by targeting internet service providers. Another attack shut down communications on the Finnish Aland Island after a telecom provider was targeted.
Europol noted that DDoS attacks are becoming more accessible and involve low cost and low risk for attackers.
DDoS attackers are increasingly using botnets of infected IoT devices to carry out their attacks. The Mirai botnet in 2016 is just one example.
This week, the Department of Justice said the creators of the Mirai botnet cooperated with the FBI and were given five years’ probation.
Close to two-thirds of EU law enforcement reported cases of DDoS attacks last year. And one-third of those emphasized the growing number of cases.
More than one-third of organizations faced a DDoS attack last year, compared to 17 percent in 2016, according to ENISA. Other reports cited by Europol indicated that DDoS attacks accounted for around 70 percent of incidents that compromised network integrity.
DDoS-for-Hire Services on the Rise
One of the reasons for the increase in DDoS attacks is the use of booters or stressers. These are DDoS-for-hire services that provide access to botnets for a small fee. The use of these services is making it much easier for unskilled attackers to launch major DDoS attacks.
In April of this year, the operators of the DDoS marketplace webstresser.org were arrested as result of Operation Power Off. This was an investigation led by Dutch Police and the British National Crime Agency with support from Europol and a dozen law enforcement agencies.
Webstresser.org was the largest DDoS marketplace with more than 136,000 registered users and 4 million attacks. When it was shut down, there was a 60 percent decrease in DDoS attack across Europe, the report noted.