Denial-of-service attacks often used as a smokescreen for data theft
Denial-of-service attacks often used as a smokescreen for data theft

The concept of the ‘diverse, distributed denial-of-service' (3DoS) attack is the next threat for businesses that take their eye off the ball when a DoS attack occurs.

Speaking to SC Magazine, Nathan Pearce, EMEA product manager at F5 Networks, said that DoS attacks are often used as a smoke screen for attacks to take place and are used as a ‘distraction tactic'.

He said: “An attacker would use a DoS attack so the victim is looking at it and not the attack and they use it to steal data.

“The problem within security is we need to understand the differences between DoS and data theft as DoS is not hacking and the scope for isolating and putting solutions in to mitigate the attack.”

He went on to say that too many people think that DoS attacks are all the same, especially when it comes to data theft.

An example of this was when in 2010 legal firm ACS:Law was hit by a DoS attack that left the unencrypted personal details of more than 5,300 BSkyB broadband subscribers accessible.

Darren Anstee, solutions architect global team manager for Arbor Networks, confirmed that DoS attacks are often used as "a disguise for other things", and often that a victim could not see everything that is going on because they are dealing with the denial flood.

He told SC Magazine that this was the case with the Sony attacks in 2011, where DoS attacks were used to disguise data thefts, and often this is done by mixing tools together, such as a DoS or an advanced persistent threat.

“These are all tools that the cyber criminal wants to use to do something and they can combine them in different ways and they are more adept and they are great at cloaking,” Anstee said.

“DoS is more complex and sophisticated and there is a lot you cannot deal with. As DoS [attacks] have increased and changed, it has become about how to mitigate attacks and traffic and about what you can do while an attack is taking place.”