BT Warn Over Cyber Attacks

Disruptive cyber-attacks are becoming more effective at breaching security defences, causing major disruption and even bringing down systems for whole working days, according to a new global study from BT.

The research reveals that 41 per cent of organisations globally were hit by Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks over the past year, with more than three quarters of those (78 per cent) targeted twice or more in the year.

DDoS attacks are seen as a key concern by more than a third of UK organisations (36 per cent). Globally the worry is even greater, with almost twice as many organisations naming the attacks a key concern (58 per cent).

The new study explores the attitudes to and preparedness for DDoS attacks of IT managers from organisations in eleven countries and regions around the world. It reveals that despite the growing concern over the attacks, only about half of UK organisations (49 per cent) have a response plan in place. Less than one in 10 UK decision makers (eight per cent) strongly believe they have sufficient resources in place to counteract an attack.

DDoS attacks can cause major disruption for organisations; they can take down an organisation’s website, overwhelm a datacentre or generally cause networks to grind to a halt and become unusable. They are also increasingly becoming more complex and difficult for organisations to fend off.

Nearly two thirds (59 per cent) of those polled agree that DDoS attacks are becoming more effective at subverting their organisation’s IT security measures. Attackers are often adopting hybrid, or multi-vector, attack tactics which involve attacks through multiple platforms. These have increased by two fifths (41 per cent) during the past year.

Multi-vector attacks pose increased complexity and risk as they involve multiple attack methods deployed simultaneously. These often require a dedicated mitigation team to track and combat the threat across multiple fronts, as automated systems are less likely to be able to offer adequate protection.

Mark Hughes, president of BT Security, said: “DDoS attacks have evolved significantly in the last few years and are now a legitimate business concern. They can have a damaging effect on revenues and send an organisation into full crisis mode. Reputations, revenue and customer confidence are on the line following a DDoS attack, not to mention the upfront time and cost that it takes an organisation to recover following an attack. Finance, e-commerce companies and retailers in particular suffer when their websites or businesses are targeted.

“Organisations need a higher level security solution to protect not only the network infrastructure but the devices that initially provide protection.”

Unsurprisingly, organisations see an increase in customer complaints when their network systems go down after a DDoS attack. Respondents said customer complaints and queries jumped by an average of 36 per cent.

The impact that DDoS attacks can have on organisations is felt in the length of time it takes them to recover from their most severe attack. On average, organisations take 12 hours to fully recover from an especially powerful attack – longer than an entire working day. In the UK, more than half of IT decision makers (58 per cent) admit that DDoS attacks have brought down their systems for more than six hours – almost a full working day.

Mark Hughes added: “The most efficient way to protect against the attack is raising awareness among employees and partnering with a trusted and capable supplier. At BT, we are working with leading global organisations to help them mitigate risks and put in place proactive defences. It is only when security is optimised that organisations are able to harness the possibilities of today’s connected world.”

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine