October 19, 2023

Protecting Your Network Against DDoS-For-Hire Attacks

In recent years, the rise of DDoS-for-hire attacks has emerged as one of the most concerning trends in the cybersecurity landscape. These attacks can be procured for a nominal fee on the Dark Web, with the cost varying based on the scale and duration of the attack. The ease and affordability of acquiring these services have made any organization, irrespective of their size or industry, susceptible to DDoS attacks. 

This presents a significant challenge for businesses, as they must remain vigilant against a broad array of adversaries, including competitors, disgruntled customers, employees, campaigners, and other malicious actors who could engage the services of DDoS-for-hire providers.


Understanding DDoS-for-Hire Services


DDoS-for-hire is a type of cybercrime-as-a-service (CaaS) where a hacker provides DDoS attacks for a fee. Typically, the vendor owns a botnet and advertises their services on the Dark Web, offering potential buyers the ability to select the target, type, and duration of the attack. Initiating a brief and relatively modest attack comes at a low cost, ranging from $5 for 5 minutes to $400 for an entire day. Payment for these services is often made using cryptocurrency, providing anonymity to both the buyer and seller.

With just a simple online search, anyone can find a DDoS-for-hire provider, and vendors often offer discounts, loyalty programs, and subscriptions to attract customers. The popularity of these attacks has led to a proliferation of DDoS-for-hire tools, including booters and stressers, which can be used to launch multi-vector DDoS attacks with large traffic volumes.

Booters are rented botnet networks that can be used to launch attacks. Vendors often provide a user-friendly interface and additional tools like Skype resolvers and IP trackers to make their services more attractive to buyers. Booters are a popular choice among hackers because they are more difficult to trace, making it easier for attackers to evade detection while conducting their nefarious activities.

Stressers, on the other hand, are designed to test the strength of a network or server by simulating high traffic loads. While they can be used for legitimate purposes, they also enable threat actors to "test" a chosen target, disrupting its processes and causing significant damage. As a result, the use of stressers for malicious purposes is illegal and considered a cybercrime.


The Impact of DDoS-for-Hire Attacks


DDoS-for-hire attacks operate on the same technical principles as a classic DDoS attack. The primary objective is to overwhelm the targeted online service by inundating it with data from multiple sources. The sheer volume of traffic generated by these attacks can cause the target system to slow down or even crash, resulting in significant disruption to the victim's operations.

DDoS-for-hire attacks can have severe implications for businesses, causing significant periods of downtime during which an organization's services may become unavailable to customers, leading to potential loss of business and damage to the brand's reputation. In addition, these attacks can serve as a diversion tactic, drawing the attention of IT teams away from other critical vulnerabilities within the network, allowing attackers to exploit those weaknesses.

A wide range of factors can motivate threat actors to launch DDoS attacks, including harming business competition, extortion, and political agendas, as well as serving as a smoke screen, intimidation technique, or a part of a larger-scale attack. For example, cybercriminals may use DDoS-for-hire attacks to divert attention from other malicious activities, such as injecting malware into a victim's system.


Protecting Your Network


Despite the efforts of law enforcement agencies to clamp down on booter-stresser services facilitating low-cost DDoS-for-hire attacks, the scale of the problem remains significant. The prevalence of DDoS-for-hire sites means that these attacks are all too easy and inexpensive to launch, with potentially devastating consequences for any organization relying on the Internet to provide its services.


Picture 1 - FBI
Figure 1 - Image Credits: FBI (screenshot)

As such, it is imperative for organizations to take the DDoS threat seriously. By investing in advanced always-on, real-time solutions that leverage automated DDoS protection in a variety of ways such as an on-premises solution, or a hybrid of on-premises appliance and cloud scrubbing centre, or as a subscription service from professional DDoS security solutions providers like Nexusguard, organizations can detect and mitigate DDoS attacks in real-time, ensuring that critical systems and applications remain accessible even during an attack.

For more details on Nexusguard’s flexible anti-DDoS solutions, please click here.

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