Banks faced DDoS attacks in 2012 and prepare for more in 2013
Banks faced DDoS attacks in 2012 and prepare for more in 2013

All online companies face the threat of overwhelming attacks.

Speaking to SC Magazine, Akamai's chief strategist for financial services Rich Bolstridge said that attacks are getting bigger and better, and more intelligence sharing will help users defend against them.

Bolstridge was presenting a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack on two mock financial websites; one of which was protected by Akamai and one of which was ‘naked'. He said that as the online financial world is now pretty risky, and this demonstration was to help those who understand what a DDoS is but do not often see one.

He said: “To me there is no necessary rhyme or reason to these. The first phase was last October-November against US banks, when attackers would say publicly which banks they were going to attack and the next day, knocking them offline. Some banks have defences and they are still not staying online, that's the surprising part.

“I see risk as a ‘crossover', understanding that risk crosses over to other segments and other areas. In one instance a bank was taken offline and it affected other regions around the world. This also affects other industry segments; the internet is a more difficult and risky place to conduct finance than it was three to four years ago.”

Bolstridge confirmed recent research which stated that 60Gbps attacks were now the norm, and said that some attacks can go from zero to 30Gbps in just a few seconds.

“We are now looking at attacks against the supply chain where a partner is hit and it has an impact. The complexity of hacking banks is another factor that is not new, but they are exposed as vulnerable based on the massive attack scale,” he said.

Another DDoS attack trend was that open systems and APIs are being used as a target as this ‘opens a new door for risk', and does not just affect financial services companies.

In terms of protection, he recommended setting protecting levels to be three times the height of the worst attack, saying that while 30-60Gbps were seen ‘it was only a matter of time before things are bigger and better than ever'.

He concluded by calling for more collaboration and incident sharing, saying that Akamai shares information with users and partners to help protect themselves from what it is seeing.