These days, you don’t have to be a an evil genius of a hacker to bring down a website. In fact, the recent cyber-attack on Sony’s Playstation Network is a good example of this. The attack was nothing sophisticated. It was a plain old DDoS (distributed denial of service attack).
Why did it happen? According to Bloomberg News, big companies have been focusing on so-called advanced persistent threats and zero-day attacks. These attacks are often long-prepared hacks that take advantage of previously unknown flaws of the system. Hackers, however, seem to be returning to the older-but-proven-effective method of flooding a website with fake traffic until it breaks.
Sony did get the network up and running in under 24 hours, but attacks like this can cause a very expensive headache for the targeted companies even if no information was stolen. Sony Playstation Network’s 100 million+ members were unable to access their accounts.
Sony is just one of many companies being attacked by using the DDoS method. Verizon has tracked a jump in DDoS size. Measured in bandwidth as gigabits per second, the average in 2011 of 4.7Gbps more than doubled last year to 10.1Gbps. In February of this year, we’ve seen one of the largest attacks yet, measuring at 400Gbps, as reported by CloudFlare.