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PIR Survey Reveals That Most Americans Are Uninformed About DDoS Attacks

Whether motivated by an extreme form of free expression or criminal intent, distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDoS attacks) are increasingly commonplace worldwide. Yet there remains a universal misunderstanding amongst the general public of what to do in the event of a DDoS attack. According to a survey commissioned by Public Interest Registry (PIR) — the not-for-profit operator of the .ORG domain — to better assess Americans' basic understanding of Internet and network attacks, 85 percent of Americans are uninformed or ill-equipped to deal with a DDoS attack. Moreover, only 17 percent could correctly identify what the acronym DDoS stood for with 77 percent admitting that they had no idea.

Through this survey, it was ultimately revealed that across the board there is a lack of understanding about DDoS attacks despite their increasing frequency. When asked whom should be the first point of call when one experiences a DDoS attack, respondents' answers varied — a select number correctly identified a DNS Service Provider while the large majority of people said their first point of call would be their local electronic department store, a technology publication, their spouse or children, Google or the police, to name a few.

Additional findings from the survey revealed:

  • Overall, the higher the household income, the more knowledgeable Americans were on the subject. Regional differences (e.g. East Coast vs. Midwest) were marginal.
  • Surprisingly, education levels are not a factor. Respondents with college degrees were no more likely than those who did not complete their degree to correctly identify DDoS or know what to do if an attack ever happened to them.
  • On a whole, men are more informed on the subject than women with 24 percent correctly identifying DDoS as a type of network attack in comparison to their female counterparts' 10 percent. Additionally, 20 percent of men compared to 11 percent of women would know what to do in the event of a DDoS attack.
  • In the event of a DDoS attack, only 36 percent of Americans would know where to turn to for advice. Of that number, nearly half of Americans 65-years-old and up would know where to seek help compared to only 28 percent of 18-24 year-olds.

"At PIR, we pride ourselves on being a name that people trust, and we're committed to helping strengthen the safety and security of the Internet by providing the information people need to protect themselves from these attacks," said Brian Cute, CEO of Public Interest Registry. "These findings only show that there is real misunderstanding about DDoS across all ages and levels of expertise, so we must do our part to engage with other Internet service providers and registry operators worldwide to discuss how we can be better prepared and prevent future attacks. It's in all of our interests — public and individual — to ensure that the Internet remains a safe and protected place for all users."

Upcoming Forum on December 5

In an effort to fuel the discussion about online attacks amongst, organizations and individuals, Public Interest Registry and NY Tech will be hosting "Mitigating DDoS Attacks: Best Practices for an Evolving Threat Landscape" — a forum on December 5 to help generate a thoughtful conversation on how Internet users can protect ourselves from DDoS attacks. Participants in the forum are experts from Google, Symantec, Afilias, Neustar, EFF, MAAWG, and De Natris Consult. For more information about the event (including registration and remote participation details) and the survey, please visit http://pir.org/why/security/ddos.

About PIR

PIR

Public Interest Registry is a nonprofit corporation that operates the .org top-level domain – the world's third largest "generic" top-level domain with more than 10 million domain names registered worldwide. As an advocate for collaboration, safety and security on the Internet, Public Interest Registry's mission is to empower the global noncommercial community to use the Internet more effectively, and to take a leadership position among Internet stakeholders on policy and other issues relating to the domain naming system. (Learn More)

Related topics: DDoS, DNS, Security, Top-Level Domains

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