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The Human Factor in DDoS Attacks

Mark F. Bregman

Ripped from the headlines: A recent DDoS attack lasted an entire 60 days. In other news, a single site was attacked 218 times in Q2 alone.

To those of us in the business of protecting Web infrastructure, these stories are hardly surprising. What's notable, though, is where they were reported, in The Financial, whose focus is banking and financial services, not technology. The reporters used the term "DDoS" as if it were as common as "hedge fund," something everyday business people, not just techies, grasp. It's this human element that caught my interest and got me thinking a little.

Do a quick GOOGLE search of "DDoS attack" and you mainly find two things: news items of companies and governments rocked by large attacks and a proliferation of ads for various mitigation services (including those offered by my company, Neustar). In many of the stories the targets weren't nearly prepared enough.

As for the ads, they predictably push technology and solutions. On-premises hardware vs. cloud-based services, traffic cleaning capacity, etc. Rarely do they mention the talented and dedicated people manning the machines, often in the middle of the night, as they creatively respond to crisis. Their expertise comes from years of training and countless trials by fire. They're the ones on the front lines, helping victims of attacks stay up and running.

So, real people are reporting attacks and real people are responding. That's worth remembering as bankers — or retailers or ad agencies — come to us for assistance. They're being attacked with technology, but for all too human reasons: customer anger, cutthroat competition or the desire to protest some perceived injustice. The more we can explain the problem (and the ways we resolve it) in basic human terms, the better for everyone.

By Mark F. Bregman, Senior Vice President and CTO at Neustar

Related topics: Cyberattack, DDoS, DNS, Security

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Comments

It's true, most people aren't prepared for Alexander DeLuca  –  Oct 10, 2011 5:43 AM PDT

It's true, most people aren't prepared for DDoS attacks. To be truly prepared, you need to have robust DNS services. With effective traffic shaping rules in place and a hybrid network, you can survive a DDoS attack with minimal damage.

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