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More and more hackers are using distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks to hold businesses to ransom.
In June 2021, the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security issued an alert to raise awareness of increased DDoS extortion activity. One notable case occurred in September of that year, with ITWorld Canada reporting that a voice-over-IP provider in Canada had been targeted.
The perpetrator was believed to have demanded one bitcoin (equal to around $45,000) as payment to end the assault. Numerous other companies have been hit since.
With ransom DDoS incidents becoming more common, it’s crucial that organizations understand how serious this threat is, how it could affect them, and what defensive measures they can use to stay safe.
But before we explore what a ransom DDoS attack is and how you can stop it, we’ll cover the basics.
What is a DDoS Attack?
A DDoS attack floods a specific network, server, website, or application with an overwhelming amount of traffic. This disrupts the normal flow of traffic and prevents the target from operating as it should.
Perpetrators tend to use botnets to launch DDoS attacks. A botnet is a network comprising many connected systems, all of which have been infected with malware, to generate disruptive traffic. These devices may be computers, IoT (Internet of things) gadgets, or mobile devices.
A hacker can leverage these “zombie” systems to attack their target with enough traffic to cause serious problems. Attackers may aim to:
But with ransom DDoS attacks, hackers are driven more by greed than anything else.
What is a Ransom DDoS Attack?
A ransom DDoS attack (often referred to as a RDDoS attack) is essentially the same, but with a few key differences. The attacker’s goal is to extort money from the target through threats and even brief demonstrations of their power.
A hacker may launch a DDoS attack against a business then contact the victims to demand payment. They will expect the target to pay the ransom, and if they remain unpaid, the attacker will continue the DDoS assault.
Alternatively, hackers may threaten the target before they begin the attack. Their objective will be to inspire panic in the potential victims and receive money without needing to act.
However, an inexperienced or unequipped perpetrator may lack the resources or knowhow to follow through on their threat. In this case, an organization could emerge from the incident unscathed even if they refuse to pay the ransom.
How Does a Ransom DDoS Attack Disrupt Businesses?
A ransom DDoS attack could disrupt your business in various ways, assuming the perpetrator launches the attack instead of simply issuing a threat.
Preventing an attack, and being prepared to handle one just in case, is vital to reduce your risk of experiencing these issues.
What Can You Do To Prevent a Ransom DDoS Attack?
Keep the following measures in mind to help prevent a ransom DDoS attack against your organization:
Refuse to Pay the Ransom
Your first instinct may be to pay the ransom, but you have no way of knowing whether that will stop the attack. It may continue, or the perpetrator could retarget your business again because they know you’re likely to pay a second time.
Train Employees to Handle Threats Responsibly
Educate your workers on what a ransom DDoS attack involves, how they usually unfold, and what actions to take if they receive a threatening message. They should know who to report an incident to and how to recognize early signs of an attack.
Look Out for Warning Signs of Impending Attacks
Common early signs of a DDoS attack include:
These could indicate other problems, too, such as outdated equipment. However, it may be best to have any of these signs investigated by cybersecurity specialists just in case.
Ensure Your Security Measures are Updated and Effective
If you haven’t updated your firewalls and other IT security measures in a while, review them to identify potential weaknesses. Outdated cybersecurity software may lack the features to protect your business.
Work with Professional Cybersecurity Specialists
Reviewing, updating, and testing your cybersecurity setup is complicated. But it’s critical to reduce your risk of being affected by a ransom DDoS attack. For many companies in Canada, the simplest way to combat threats is to work with a team of cybersecurity professionals.
At The Driz Group, we’re dedicated to providing unparalleled cybersecurity solutions for businesses in all sectors.
Our experienced, trained, reliable team will perform a comprehensive IT audit and vulnerability assessment to accurately determine your unique security requirements. And we’ll implement the best security available to always defend your organization.
Start protecting your business — schedule your free consultation with The Driz Group today.
Steve E. Driz, I.S.P., ITCP