In periods of peak activity, distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks can comprise as much as 10 percent of a country's total Internet traffic as they are transpiring, according to Cisco Systems' 2016 Visual Networking Index report.
Cisco annual VNI report analyzes and forecasts visual networking application and global IP traffic trends. For the first time in the report's history, Cisco partnered with DDoS mitigation firm Arbor Networks to assess the impact of DDoS attacks on network traffic. After comparing the two companies' data sets, Cisco found that DDoS attacks worldwide surged by 25 percent in 2015 and projected that number would increase 2.6-fold to 17 million incidents in 2020.
Gary Sockrider, principal security technologist at Arbor Networks, told SCMagazine.com that combining the two companies' research and telemetries “gives us visibility into somewhere around 130 Tbps of Internet traffic, and that's a very, very large view – easily a third” of total Internet traffic.
Further leveraging Arbor's findings, Cisco noted that the frequency of DDoS attacks have increased by a factor of more than 2.5 over the last three years — growing at roughly the same rate as overall traffic. The report also stated that the average size of a DDoS attack is quickly approaching the milestone 1 Gbps mark, “enough to take most organizations completely offline.”
“The attacks are going to get as big as there is bandwidth to carry them,” said Sockrider, noting that the rapid influx of connected Internet of Things devices is only going to give attackers even more weapons to abuse as bandwidth-eaters.
The report also revealed new data showing that DDoS attacks constitute more than five percent of all monthly gaming-related traffic, and a whopping 30 percent when the incidents are actively occurring.
“The game industry continues to pull in millions of dollars in revenues, and hackers are looking for a chance to steal a piece of that pie. There are many greedy hands involved in these types of attacks, said Cisco Senior Analyst Usha Andra, a key contributor to the VNI report. “Online games that have multiplayer gaming that can consumer peak amounts of traffic patterns,” she continued.
Beyond the realm of DDoS, the VNI Index predicts that annual global IP traffic will surpass the zettabyte bandwidth threshold by the end of this year, and that smartphone traffic will exceed PC traffic by 2020.