DoS attacks are biggest threat for service providers

Security report

Denial of Service (DoS) attacks are the top operational security threat to service providers, according to research.

Arbor Networks' fifth annual Infrastructure Security Report has identified botnet-driven distributed DoS attacks as taking over the number one spot on its threat list from pure botnet attacks which topped the list last year.

Almost 35 per cent of the 132 IP network operators cited it as the biggest danger, followed by botnets with 21 per cent.

Over half of the respondents reported a rise in these attacks on bandwidth levels of 1Gb or less and many also reported long term outages as a result.

A blog post from Danny McPherson, one of the authors of the report, said: "Beyond sheer attack size, respondents indicated that they are continuing to see attacks become more sophisticated, with attackers expressly aiming to exhaust resources other than bandwidth, such as firewalls, load-balancers, back-end database infrastructure and associated transaction capacity, cached data serving algorithms, etc."

He added: "This increasing sophistication is a disconcerting trend that has been captured in previous editions of the survey as well, and one that continues to worry network operators."

The report also raised concerns about IPv4 beginning to reach its end and the migration to IPv6 growing, as this could cause many operational challenges for networks including security.

"Earlier major architecture changes were implemented when the internet was an experimental network with little or no relevance to most people," said Jennifer Pigg, vice president of Enabling Technologies at the Yankee Group, in a statement.

"Today, the majority of global business networks are entirely reliant on internet availability, stability and integrity. With IPv4 exhaustion and IPv6 deployment, these networks are facing a perfect storm: multiple, simultaneous, large-scale changes."

The best way to combat these obstacles and ensuring operations are back up and working were non-technical factors, according to the respondents.

Ensuring there are skilled resources, clearly-defined operational policies and responsibilities, and management understanding and commitment were cited as key as these are some of the biggest problems the service providers face.

Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott is a former freelance journalist and currently political reporter for Sky News. She has a varied writing history, having started her career at Dennis Publishing, working in various roles across its business technology titles, including ITPro. Jennifer has specialised in a number of areas over the years and has produced a wealth of content for ITPro, focusing largely on data storage, networking, cloud computing, and telecommunications.

Most recently Jennifer has turned her skills to the political sphere and broadcast journalism, where she has worked for the BBC as a political reporter, before moving to Sky News.