Verisign saw IT services/cloud/Software as a Service customers experiencing the largest volume of DDoS attacks.
Verisign saw IT services/cloud/Software as a Service customers experiencing the largest volume of DDoS attacks.

In the final quarter of 2014, the size of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks mitigated by Verisign had an average peak size of 7.39 Gbps, marking a 14 percent increase over the third quarter of 2014 (6.46 Gbps) and a 245 percent increase over the final quarter of 2013 (2.14 Gbps).

Those findings are a part of the ‘Verisign Distributed Denial-of-Service Trends Report' for the fourth quarter of 2014, which includes observations on DDoS activity for the period beginning Oct. 1, 2014 and ending Dec. 31, 2014.

“In all, 42 percent of attacks leveraged more than 1 Gbps of attack traffic, which even today remains a significant amount of bandwidth for any network-dependent organization to over-provision for DDoS attacks,” the report revealed, adding 17 percent of attacks leveraged more than 10 Gbps of DDoS traffic.

In the fourth quarter of 2014, UDP amplification attacks leveraging Network Time Protocol (NTP) continued to be the most common DDoS attack vector, but Simple Service Discovery Protocol (SSDP) also continues to be exploited in amplification attacks, according to Verisign's research.

For NTP amplification attacks, the report stated that “the solution can be as easy as restricting or rate-limiting NTP ports inbound/outbound to only the authenticated/known hosts.” With SSDP-based attacks, “SSDP implementations [for most organizations] do not need to be open to the Internet.”

Which industry was hit hardest by DDoS attacks in the fourth quarter of 2014?

Verisign saw IT services/cloud/Software as a Service (SaaS) customers experiencing the largest volume of attacks, with one customer experiencing the largest volumetric UDP-based DDoS attack in the final quarter of 2014, the report indicated.

“This was primarily an NTP reflection attack targeting port 443 and peaking at 60 Gbps and 16 Mpps,” the report states. “The attack persisted at the 60 Gbps rate for more than 24 hours, and serves as another example of how botnet capacity and attack sustainability can be more than some organizations can manage themselves.”

The media and entertainment industry was also a big target. One customer experienced the largest TCP-based attack – a SYN flood – of the quarter, according to the report, which explains that the attack targeted a custom gaming port and peaked at 55 Gbps and 60 Mpps.

Altogether, 33 percent of Verisign DDoS mitigations were for IT services/cloud/SaaS customers, 23 percent were for media and entertainment customers, 15 percent were for financial customers, 15 percent were for public sector customers, eight percent were for ecommerce/online advertising customers, and six percent were for telecommunications customers.

Public sector customers experienced the largest increase in attacks in quarter four of 2014, the report notes.

“Verisign believes the steep increase in the number of DDoS attacks levied at the public sector may be attributed to attackers' increased use of DDoS attacks as tactics for politically motivated activism, or hacktivism, against various international governing organizations, and in reaction to various well-publicized events throughout the quarter, including protests in Hong Kong and Ferguson, MO,” the report states.

Verisign also noted an increase in DDoS-for-hire services, also known as “booters,” which can be hired for $5 an hour, or $1,500 a month.