November 18th, 2015

The Cyber Stickup

The Wild West evokes images of Conestoga wagons, saloons, stick-up kids, and the inevitable quick-draw duel between cops and robbers. Fast forward three centuries, and that same struggle still plays out daily– but this time the uncharted territory is the Internet, and the stickup kids are hackers whose weapons of choice are distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.

Since the Internet spans every continent and provides relative anonymity, hackers are relatively unencumbered by the threat of being caught, and they target victims at will. The private email industry is the latest batch of organizations to come under attack, and the results are telling.

As we noted in our October 2015 Neustar DDoS Attacks & Protection Report, most extortion methods start the same way: servers are inexplicably taken offline, then the IT department receives a ransom note demanding Bitcoins in return for restored service.

At this point, companies are left with two choices:

  1. Pay up, with no guarantee that attacks won’t be repeated, and rely on hope as a defense
  2. Call a company that offers comprehensive, emergency DDoS mitigation services

Hope is not a DDoS strategy.

Since companies are being publicly extorted, paying up sends the message that you have vast resources and limited defenses—perfect for repeated or copycat attacks. When asked why he robbed banks,  “Slick” Willie Sutton famously retorted, “Because that’s where the money is.”

Not having a DDoS mitigation solution is akin to leaving the vault open.

As an un-interrupted web experience becomes increasingly crucial, it’s predicted that extortion attempts will grow in frequency.

Better security and increased vigilance helped tame the Wild West and ushered in the temporary demise of stickup kids. And in much the same way that people relied on the local sheriff to protect them, today’s companies would be wise to seek out a leading DDoS protection service to ward off attacks and protect their investments.

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