Cost of DNS attacks on UK businesses more than doubled since last year

News by Jay Jay

In June last year, a report from EfficientIP revealed that 76 percent of organisations around the world suffered DNS-based attacks and almost a third of UK organisations experienced data exfiltration via DNS.

In June last year, a report from EfficientIP revealed that 76 percent of organisations around the world suffered DNS-based attacks and almost a third of UK organisations experienced data exfiltration via DNS of which, 16 percent had sensitive customer information stolen and 15 percent intellectual property stolen.

The report also revealed that almost all (99 percent) organisations in the UK did not apply the necessary security patches to ward off DNS attacks such as DNS-based malware, DDoS, DNS tunneling, cache poisoning, and zero-day exploits and therefore, could lose millions to such attacks aside from suffering extended application downtime.

A new report released by the firm has confirmed its fears. According to the report, UK businesses suffered more from DNS attacks than those based in the US, France, and Germany, losing an average of £579,000 per attack and facing an average of seven cyber-attacks in 2018.

While the cost of DNS attacks rose by 82 percent in the US compared to last year, it rose by 15 percent in Germany and 48 percent in France. However, the UK was the hardest hit, with the average cost of DNS attacks more than doubling (105 percent) since last year.

Despite suffering more losses than their counterparts in other countries, UK businesses spent much less than those in France and Germany to prepare for GDPR which will come into force in exactly a week from now. According to EfficientIP, while German businesses spent £1,299,108 on average for GDPR compliance, French businesses spent £1,174,536, Spanish businesses spent £906,854 on average and UK businesses spent just £863,847 on average for GDPR compliance. Even organisations based in the US spent more on GDPR compliance (£1,050,705) than those in the UK.

A major reason why organisations in the UK suffered more from cyber-attacks was their failure to adapt security solutions to protect DNS on-premise or in the cloud and investment priorities to ensure data confidentiality. This resulted in a higher risk of data loss, service downtime, compliance failure or compromised public image aside from financial losses.

"Worryingly, the frequency and financial consequences of DNS attacks have risen and businesses are late in implementing purpose-built security solutions to prevent, detect and mitigate attacks. On the positive side, business and IT leaders globally now have a better understanding on why DNS is fundamental to ensuring business continuity and data confidentiality, so securing DNS has become a top priority for them," said David Williamson, CEO of EfficientIP.

According to the DNS security solutions provider, over three-quarters of organisations across the world suffered DNS attacks this year. Of these, DNS-based malware attacks were the most common (36 percent) and rivalled phishing attacks in frequency, followed by DNS tunneling (20 percent), domain lock-up (20 percent) and DNS DDoS attacks (20 percent).

40 percent of organisations that suffered DNS attacks this year suffered cloud service downtime, 33 percent suffered theft or loss of data, and 22 percent suffered loss of business.  

"The results of this survey are unsurprising, and represent a serious issue for all Internet users. Through our tools, we have visibility to a multitude of websites which exploit the DNS infrastructure for malicious purposes, creating fake domains, cyber-squatting on legitimate brand or organisation names in order to distribute spam and malware, or engage in other malicious activities," said Tim Helming, director of product management at DomainTools to SC Magazine UK.

"What's more, with the new regulatory changes ushered in by GDPR, visibility of Whois data used to combat these malicious sites will be reduced, hindering researchers and in turn creating a safer environment for scammers and cyber-criminals and a more dangerous one for legitimate users of the Internet," he warned.

While 99 percent of UK businesses did not apply the necessary security patches to ward off DNS attacks last year, many of them are now taking steps to ensure data confidentiality. According to EfficientIP, 38 percent of organisations globally are now prioritising technology investment on the monitoring and analysis of DNS traffic, 21 percent are investing in conventional security solutions such as firewalls, 35 percent are investing in securing network endpoints, and seven percent are increasing the number of filtering rules.

Steve Miller-Jones, senior director of product management at Limelight Networks, told SC Media UK that working with a world class CDN and cloud security service provider can also help companies effectively manage their security concerns and provides a range of implementation options.

"Mitigating the risks of DNS attacks is clearly part of a holistic approach to security, and it is important to consider this amongst the range of measures that are needed to protect a business's assets and data," he said.

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