DDoS attacks are on the rise

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) has long been common, but there's evidence that these types of attacks are on the rise, posing yet another threat to retailer systems.

DDoS attackers use hijacked and virus-infected computers to target websites en masse, overloading and shutting down systems. Often the culprits seek to exhort money or score points in a political or social platform. Or, as DDoS mitigation service provider Prolexic surmises, trying to disrupt financial markets.

"The threats in the security space are increasing," said Mike Afergan, SVP/GM, Akami. "The threat is real, the volume of attacks is real."

On Feb. 10, Internet security firm Cloudflare fought off an attack on one of its customers. It could have been among the largest documented DDoS cases. The 400 gigabyte per second (gbps) assault was 30 percent larger than the largest attack documented in 2013, the company told Reuters.

In the days that followed a DDoS attack on virtual currency Bitcoin briefly shut down its payment processing ability, Internet registration company Namecheap was the target of a simultaneous attack on 300 websites it registers including bit.ly, and social networking site Meetup.com fought off a sustained attack when hackers brought down the site for several days. The hackers demanded a $300 ransom which the company refused to pay, Meetup CEO Scott Heiferman told Reuters.

The average cost of an outage is $630,000, according to Reuters.

When tracking visits to retail sites during the 2013 holiday season, Akami found traffic from "bad" visitors was 2.5 times greater than from "good" visitors, or customers, Afergan said during a conference session at eTail West Tuesday.

DDoS attacks are a different form of cyber threat than those that caused data breaches at retailers in 2013. Target's security breach affected its POS systems with a motive of selling the stolen customer information.
Just as cyber attacks are varied, so too are the methods of protecting against them. "There is no, one size fits all solution when it comes to security concerns," said Afergan. "But using a distributed cloud and network helps stop cyber criminals before they get close to the data center and touching your technology. A distributed platform really is fundamental in terms of stopping attacks."

For more:
-See this Reuters article

Related stories:
Hackers set off 60,000 alerts during Neiman Marcus security breach
Neiman Marcus confirms credit card data breach
Data hacks: FBI says more breaches in store, Neiman Marcus says 1.1M cards at risk 
Target invests $5 million in security education, offers free credit monitoring to customers for one year
Target data breach gets worse, 110 million shoppers at risk