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Underworld trends: criminals adopt DDoS attacks for extortion - report

Ransomware attacks are no longer enough. Threat actors increasingly couple malware with DDoS attacks for extortion.

Threat actors are getting smarter and more professional. While the world just got familiar with double and triple extortion attacks, threat actors add new threat vectors in the mix.

According to a recent threat landscape report by Radware, 2021 saw a 37% increase in distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. Worryingly, some DDoS attacks are coupled with ransomware attacks for maximum effect.

"The statistics tell a story about bad actors. They are getting smarter, more organized, and more targeted in pursuing their objectives — whether that be for money, fame, or a political cause," said Pascal Geenens, director of threat intelligence for Radware.

Greenes insists that cybercriminals are shifting their attack patterns. Novel attacks combine several threat vectors to form complex and complex-to-mitigate campaigns.

"Ransomware operators and their affiliates, which now include DDoS-for-hire actors, are working with a whole new level of professionalism and discipline — something that we have not seen before," Greenes said.

Ransom DDoS to the front

According to the report, the number and scale of DDoS attacks have steadily increased since 2020. Last year witnessed some of the largest attacks in history while old botnets switched owners and new ones emerged.

Ransomware gangs increasingly pair their criminal efforts with botnet-for-rent operators. For example, victims who refuse to pay get hit with a DDoS attack to further complicate day-to-day activities.

Ransom DDoS (RDDoS) attacks more often serve as an integral part of multi-vector attacks, targeting VoIP providers and causing fears for critical infrastructure safety worldwide.

The report's authors see the use of DDoS in ransomware attacks as a norm. With the development of an underground economy supporting ransomware operators, there will be no shortage of DDoS-for-hire services.

What is a DDoS attack

No hiding in the cloud

Previous reports on cloud security showed that Close to 63% of respondents said cyber threats specifically targeting cloud services were the main obstacle to cloud adoption.

The fears are not ungrounded. According to researchers at Radware, with more businesses migrating to the cloud, attackers are adapting their tactics and techniques.

Businesses should be aware that a cloud-based DDoS attack is a legitimate threat organizations face and prepare for fallout from a cloud-scale attack.

Targeted industries

Last year, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), and the Americas each accounted for 40% of the attack volume. Asia Pacific region accounted for 20%.

Industries that suffer from DDoS attacks the most are gaming and retail, with reach accounting for 22% of the attack volume.

The leader industries were followed by government (13%), healthcare (12%), technology (9%), and finance (6%).

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