Blocking DDoS Archive

As the threat of state-sponsored cyber-attacks increases, multiple nations are putting together ‘cyber-armies’ able to fight back. The US Cyber Command was created in 2009 with the aim of defending the country’s infrastructure from attack. North Korea also has a cyber warfare unit and in the UK, it was recently revealed that the nation is increasing its ability to wage war in cyberspace with the creation of a new offensive force of up to 2,000 people.

Another country upping its game is Nigeria, which has itself suffered from numerous incidents of cyber-terrorism after jihadist militants Boko Haram migrated to the internet. The nation claims Boko Haram is leveraging social media for recruitment and was responsible for defacing the Defence Headquarters website. The group is also blamed for a hack on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) website on a presidential election day.

In 2016, the Nigerian Army announced plans to take the war against insurgency to the nation’s cyber space. The result is the Nigerian Army Cyber Warfare Command: 150 IT trained officers and men drawn from the corps and services in the Nigerian Army. Their aim: to monitor, defend and assault in cyberspace through distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on criminals, nation states and terrorists.

So what led to the setup of the Command? “There have been a lot of issues with Boko Haram and also general cybersecurity problems,” says Eric Vanderburg, vice president of cybersecurity at TCDI, who is also an author and speaker on information security. “Crime is widespread in Africa, but their economy is one of the largest.”

The Nigerian army says it has acquired state of the art technical equipment and experts from IBM are currently configuring its newly procured servers. With the capacity to protect the country’s critical infrastructure, the command will also monitor the Nigerian Army’s networks and advise field commanders on how to use the computer-based weapons systems.

But there will be challenges as the country tries to tackle years of crime taking place in cyberspace. For example, Nigeria is simply training existing officers who might have no previous knowledge or experience in cybersecurity.

“They are all former army and military personnel,” says Vanderburg. “But they really need – even if only for leadership – someone to provide that guidance and specific knowledge on some of the key areas to the new recruits to train them through a programme. I just don’t see how it could be effective without bringing in some experienced people.”

If there isn’t much action, Nigeria’s Command could be more about appearances. “I think it is posturing,” Vanderburg says. “They have resisted some of the cooperation from the US – we had the US-Africa Command, for example.”

In addition: “They have previously said they have eradicated the Boko Haram threat but it’s really still there beneath the surface,” Vanderburg points out. “I think that’s going to be a lot of what happens here: they will do something with the cyber command, maybe fix some small issue and declare the cyber problem fixed.”

Nigeria also wants to show criminals and other nations it is doing something about cybercrime in a country known for its scams and phishing emails. “I think there is going to be an increasing focus on Africa: with how many cyber-attacks are coming out of it and international pressure to solve the problem,” Vanderburg says.

Internationally, Vanderburg stresses the need for a group in each country as well as cooperation between nations. “Each country should have something that helps coordinate local resources in response to cyber threats, but those groups need to work together on an international scale to now identify the problem. If, for example, an event impacts five countries, each of those could then have local units able to respond it.”


EfficientIP’s 2018 DNS Threat Report has revealed telecom organisations took an average of 18 hours to mitigate each cyber attack.

The telecommunications sector ranks as one of the worst businesses sectors in its handling of cyber threats.

According to the report from EfficientIP, 43% of telco organisations suffered from DNS-based malware over the past 12 months. It was also highlighted that 81% took three days or more to apply a critical security patch after notification.

Time and money
DNS attacks cost telco organisations, like any other, significant time and money.

In general, telcos are taking too long to mitigate an attack; requiring an average of three employees to collectively spend over 17 hours per attack.

Due to how time-intensive the mitigation process can be, the report found that the average cost per DNS attack is rising for the telecommunications sector. Last year, a single DNS attack cost a telco organisation $622,100. This year the research shows telcos lose an average of $886,560 from each DNS attack, an increase of 42% in just 12 months.
Commenting on the reason behind these attacks, David Williamson, CEO of EfficientIP says: “Telco organisations attract complex, sophisticated cyber attacks as they hold sensitive customer data, and are also critical for providing unified communication services to businesses With a large part of their customer base operating online, strong network security has become a business necessity for the entire telco sector in general. Ensuring consistency and reliability in service is a crucial step towards providing elevated customer satisfaction.”

Reputational damage
The ramifications on telcos’ brands, while undergoing cyber attacks, is damaging.

Brand reputation was likely to suffer due to service issues:

• 45% had to close down specific affected processes and connections.
• 38% suffered cloud service downtime.
• 33% reported a compromised website.
• 31% endured in-house application downtime.
• 30% reported sensitive customer information stolen.

Recommendations for telcos
Working with some of the world’s largest telecommunication brands such as Orange and Vodafone to protect their networks, EfficientIP recommends five best practices:

• Rethink and simplify DNS architectures by replacing intermediary security layers with an adapted DNS security solution. As well as reducing administration and maintenance costs, this helps guarantee availability of service.

• Augment your threat visibility using real-time, context-aware DNS transaction analytics for behavioral threat detection. Businesses can detect all threat types, and prevent data theft to help meet regulatory compliance such as GDPR and US CLOUD Act.

• Apply adaptive countermeasures relevant to threats. The result is ensured business continuity, even when the attack source is unidentifiable, and practically eliminates risks of blocking legitimate users.

• Decentralise DNS architecture to cope with heavy growth of traffic. In addition to enhancing user experience, placing purpose-built, high performance DNS servers in points of presence significantly improves security against DDoS attacks.

• Incorporate DNS into a global network security solution to recognize unusual or malicious activity and inform the broader security ecosystem. This allows holistic network security to address growing network risks and protect against the lateral movement of threats.


In Europe DDoS attack volumes have increased sharply during the third quarter 2018 according to a new report.

The report from DDoS protection specialist Link11 shows the average attack volume more than doubled in July, August and September, to 4.6 Gbps (up from 2.2 Gbps in Q2).

Attacks are also becoming increasingly complex, with 59 percent of incidents using two or more vectors — up from 46 percent in Q2. The highest-volume attack observed by Link11 in 2018 rose to 371 Gbps in Q3, an increase of 75 percent compared to the maximum of 212 Gbps observed in Q1. In addition, there were a further 35 attacks with bandwidth peaks above 100 Gbps.

Multivector attacks, which accounted for 59 percent of all attacks in Q3, were also a major threat. 37 percent of all attacks in Q3 featured 3 different vectors – more than double the number of triple-vector attacks seen in Q2 (16 percent).

“The structure and composition of DDoS attacks is constantly changing, but the goal remains the same: to interrupt servers, networks or data streams,” says Aatish Pattni, regional director UK and Ireland for Link11. “Over half of attacks during Q3 were multi-vector, making them harder to defend against, and they are growing in volume, too, meaning they can easily overwhelm defenses. To stop these attacks disrupting business operations, organizations need proactive protection that tracks and responds to evolving attack scenarios and patterns automatically, using advanced machine-learning techniques.”

The report also reveals that attacks are most frequent on Fridays and Sundays, with the level of attacks declining during the business week. Attackers targeted organizations most frequently between 4pm and midnight Central European Time, with attack volumes at their lowest between 5am and 10 am CET. The highest number of attacks seen in one day during Q3 was 885 on Friday 17 August.


The election race for the governorship of the state of Georgia promises to be tight, with current estimates showing that Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp are in a statistical dead heat. Unfortunately, Georgia is also one of five states that continue to use fully electronic voting with no verified paper ballot trails, raising the specter that, if inconsistencies arise, voters could lose confidence in the result.

Like many companies, the state is behind in implementing good cyber-security measures and having good visibilities over their assets and vulnerabilities. One example: Officials in the Kemp’s office—he is also Secretary of State in charge of elections—used an internet-connected computer to load memory cards containing the voting-system software, potentially giving attackers a pathway to compromise election machines. Over the weekend, the Democratic Party of Georgia pointed out critical vulnerabilities in the election website that Kemp’s office had ignored.

The fact that the all-electronic voting machines do not create paper ballots or some other way to audit the system means that such vulnerabilities could impact the vote, or at least voters’ confidence, Marian Schneider, president of the nonprofit Verified Voting, said during a press briefing on election issues.

“That is a huge risk of attack,” she said. “The takeaway here is, yes, it is a risk, it is not a certainty, [we] can’t get the risk down to zero, but [the problem is] if something happens, it will be very hard to detect and it will be impossible to recover from it.”

As Americans head to the polls this week, Georgia’s travails underscore the cyber-security complexities of conducting elections on a budget, but its efforts—and the efforts of other states—also hold lessons for companies. The threat landscape for elections differs from those faced by most companies but should underscore the multiple pathways to compromise that most companies face.

“There is one thing for sure—we can learn a lot from this election,” said Srinivas Mukkamala, CEO of RiskSense, a cyber-threat management firm. “Trust, misinformation, cyber-physical systems, and whether this is this a lot of FUD [fear, uncertainty and doubt] or are we trying to solve a real problem?”

While a lot of potential attacks are ones commonly seen by companies—such as phishing, denial-of-service and database-injection attacks, such as SQL-command injection—the threat landscape faced by election officials also demonstrates other, less popular methods of compromise.

Here are five lessons that companies can learn from the current election security landscape.

1. Trust is valuable, so disinformation is a danger.

In May, election officials in Knoxville, Tenn., faced a nightmare: Minutes before the primary election results would be posted online, a denial-of-service attack crashed the county’s server. While the issue did not affect election results, it did cause citizens to question whether the integrity of the election was compromised, according to a news report in Vox. Attackers also used the chaos to slip into the election tally system and view the code, according to the report.

Such attacks undermine trust in election systems, as does disinformation pushed through fake accounts on social media. The infrastructure for such propaganda is enormous: Twitter removed 90 million suspect accounts in May and June, a pace that seems to be continuing.

“When you go to a restaurant, you assume that the health department has been in there—you would not buy food by some person on a street corner because there is no sense of trust,” said Shawn Henry, president of services and chief security officer for cyber-security firm CrowdStrike. “But people are consuming media every day without knowing the source.”

Companies should look to their brand on social media to keep consumer trust in their products. In addition, service disruption should be considered as a significant risk. Attacks on both can undermine consumer confidence, Henry said.

2. Physical security is important.

At the DEFCON hacking convention in August, a group of voting-security activists taught kids techniques for hacking voting machines and tabulating systems. Among the problems found: A system used in 18 states could be hacked in two minutes by picking the lock and using a program to load malicious software onto the system.

“[I]t takes the average voter six minutes to vote,” stated a report on the results. “This indicates one could realistically hack a voting machine in the polling place on Election Day within the time it takes to vote.”

Companies need to worry about insiders having physical access to systems. Many adversaries will try to get someone hired into a company, use a contractor to gain access to sensitive areas or co-opt someone already working for a company, said CrowdStrike’s Henry.

“If you are looking at comprehensive nation-state programs, they are looking at the physical aspect,” he said. “That’s not speculation. It is happening.”

3. The most obvious hack is not the most dangerous.

Because election machines are, usually, not connected to the internet, many election officials consider them to be safe. As Georgia’s election officials learned, however, there are other ways to attempt to compromise such systems.

In a court case filed in 2017, voting-security experts revealed that sensitive information on Georgia’s registered voters had already been downloaded from a purportedly secure database, that officials in the Secretary of State’s office used an internet-connected computer to load memory cards containing the voting-system software, and that the voting machines could be hacked without even being connected to the internet by installing software onto the USB memory stick.

Yet, in September, a U.S. district court judge ruled that there was not enough time to fix the issues and so allowed Georgia to continue using the all-electronic systems.

Companies should conduct threat modeling exercises to identify overlooked avenues of attack. In addition, third-party suppliers and contractors need to be evaluated as potential sources of risk, said RiskSense’s Mukkamala.

“It is not just a need to understand your own systems—you have to understand your vendors and their systems,” he said. “The unfortunate situation is that most of the election vendors are not very sophisticated in cyber-security. Often, small third-party suppliers are similarly unsophisticated.”

4. Have a crisis plan.

Because misinformation and denial-of-service on election officials’ pages can undermine trust in election systems, officials need to have a crisis response plan in place. Having such a plan in place was the primary recommendation of the DEFCON Voting Village 2018 report, which pointed to the publication of false election results in Ukraine and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on industry and election sites as potential threats.

“Organizational leaders should anticipate what conditions might be created by a cyber attack on their systems … and create a plan for how to communicate with the public and other stakeholders under such conditions,” the report recommended. “This plan should be part of a local or state government’s overall emergency planning.”

5. When nation-states are involved, organizations need help.

The May attack on Knox County election systems, the massive efforts of the Internet Research Agency in Russia, and continuing attacks and probes on states’ election systems underscore that nation-states are looking to disrupt U.S. elections and deepen the divides between parties.

Companies have dealt with similar attacks for at least a decade, but defending against such well-resourced attackers is difficult. Both election systems and businesses need government collaboration to better defend against such attacks, said CrowdStrike’s Henry.

“All organizations need to understand that there are nation-states that are interested in their information,” he said. “It also provides an asymmetrical threat. There are nations that can impact the U.S., and they don’t have the weaknesses that we have.”

With the latest evidence showing not just Russian operatives targeting the U.S., but also attackers from Iran and potentially China running their own operations, the U.S. government is doing more to protect election systems and companies.

“Our adversaries are trying to undermine our country on a persistent and regular basis, whether it’s election season or not,” Christopher Wray, director of the FBI, said in an August briefing on election security. “There’s a clear distinction between activities that threaten the security and integrity of our election systems and the broader threat from influence operations designed to influence voters. With our partners, we’re working to counter both threats.”


Ecommerce revenue worldwide amounts to more than 1.7 trillion US dollars, in the year 2018 alone. And the growth is expected to increase furthermore.

However, with growth comes new challenges. One such problem is cybersecurity. In 2017, there were more than 88 million attacks on eCommerce businesses. And a significant portion includes small businesses.

Moreover, online businesses take a lot of days to recover from the attacks. Some businesses completely shut down due to the aftermath of the security breaches.

So, if you are a small business, it is essential to ensure the safety and security of your eCommerce site. Else, the risks pose a potential threat to your online business.

Here we discuss some basics to ensure proper security to your eCommerce site.

Add an SSL certificate

An SSL Certificate ensures that the browser displays a green padlock or in a way shows to the site visitors that they are safe; and that their data is protected with encryption during the transmission.

To enable or enforce an SSL certificate on your site, you should enable HTTPS—secured version of HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP)—across your website.

In general, HTTP is the protocol web browsers use to display web pages.

So, HTTPS and SSL certificates work hand in hand. Moreover, one is useless without the other.

However, you have to buy an SSL certificate that suits your needs. Buying a wrong SSL certificate would do no good for you.

Several types of SSL certificates are available based on the functionality, validation type, and features.

Some common SSL certificates based on the type of verification required are:

  1. Domain Validation SSL Certificate: This SSL certificate is issued after validating the ownership of the domain name.
  2. Organization Validation SSL Certificate: This SSL certificate additionally requires you to verify your business organization. The added benefit is it gives the site visitors or users some more confidence. Moreover, small online businesses should ideally opt for this type of SSL certificate.
  3. Extended Validation SSL Certificate: Well, this type of SSL certificate requires you to undergo more rigorous checks. But when someone visits your website, the address bar in the browser displays your brand name. It indicates users that you’re thoroughly vetted and highly trustworthy.

Here are some SSL certificate types based on the features and functionality.

  1. Single Domain SSL Certificate: This SSL certificate can be used with one and only one domain name.
  2. Wildcard SSL Certificate: This SSL certificate covers the primary and all the associated subdomains.
    Every subdomain along with the primary domain will be covered under a single wildcard SSL certificate.
  3. Multi-Domain SSL Certificate: One single SSL certificate can cover multiple primary domains. The maximum number of domains covered depends on the SSL certificate vendor your purchase the certificate from. Typically, a Multi-Domain SSL Certificate can support up to 200 domain names.

Nowadays, making your business site secure with SSL certificate is a must. Otherwise, Google will punish you. Yes, Google ranks sites with HTTPS better than sites using no security.

However, if you are processing online payments on your site, then SSL security is essential. Otherwise, bad actors will misuse your customer information such as credit card details, eventually leading to identity theft and fraudulent activities.

Use a firewall

In general, a firewall monitors incoming and outgoing traffic on your servers, and it helps you to block certain types of traffic—which may pose a threat—from interacting or compromising your website servers.

Firewalls are available in both virtual and physical variants. And it depends on the type of environment you have in order to go with a specific firewall type.

Many eCommerce sites use something called a Web Application Firewall (WAF).

On top of a typical network firewall, a WAF gives more security to a business site. And it can safeguard your website from various types of known security attacks.

So, putting up a basic firewall is essential. Moreover, using a Web Application Firewall (WAF) is really up to the complexity of the website or application you have put up.

Protect your site from DDoS attacks

A type of attack used to bring your site down by sending huge amounts of traffic is nothing but denial-of-service-attack. In this attack, your site will be bombarded with spam requests in a volume that your website can’t handle. And the site eventually goes down, putting a service disruption to the normal/legitimate users.

However, it is easy to identify a denial-of-service-request, because too many requests come from only one source. And by blocking that source using a Firewall, you can defend your business site.

However, hackers have become smart and highly intelligent. They usually compromise various servers or user computers across the globe. And using those compromised sources, hackers will send massive amounts of requests. This type of advanced denial-of-service attack is known as distributed-denial-of-service-attack. Or simply put a DDoS attack.

When your site is attacked using DDoS, a common Firewall is not enough; because a firewall can only defend you from bad or malicious requests. But in DDoS, all requests can be good by the definition of the Firewall, but they overwhelm your website servers.

Some advanced Web Application Firewalls (WAF) can help you mitigate the risks of DDoS attacks.

Also, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can detect them and stop the attacks from hitting your website servers. So, contact your ISP and get help from them on how they can protect your site from DDoS attacks.

If you need a fast and straightforward way to secure your website from distributed-denial-of-service attacks, services like Cloud Secure from Webscale Networks is a great option.

In the end, it is better to have strategies in place to mitigate DDoS attacks. Otherwise, your business site may go down and can damage your reputation—which is quite crucial in the eCommerce world.

Get malware protection

A Malware is a computer program that can infect your website and can do malicious activities on your servers.

If your site is affected by Malware, there are a number of dangers your site can run into. Or, the user data stored on your servers might get compromised.

So, scanning your website regularly for malware detection is essential. Symantec Corporation provides malware scanning and removal tools. These tools can help your site stay safe from various kinds of malware.

Encrypt data

If you are storing any user or business related data, it is best to store the data in encrypted form, on your servers.

If the data is not encrypted, and when there is a data breach, a hacker can easily use the data—which may include confidential information like credit card details, social security number, etc. But when the data is encrypted, it is much hard to misuse as the hacker needs to gain access to the decryption key.

However, you can use a tokenization system. In which, the sensitive information is replaced with a non-sensitive data called token.

When tokenization implemented, it renders the stolen data useless. Because the hacker cannot access the Tokenization system, which is the only component that can give access to sensitive information. Anyhow, your tokenization system should be implemented and isolated properly.

Use strong passwords

Use strong passwords that are at least 15 character length for your sites’ admin logins. And when you are remotely accessing your servers, use SSH key-based logins wherever possible. SSH key-based logins are proven to be more secure than password-based logins.

Not only you, urge your site users and customers to use strong password combinations. Moreover, remind them to change their password frequently. Plus, notify them about any phishing scams happening on your online business name.

For example, bad actors might send emails to your customers giving lucrative offers. And when a user clicks on the email, he will be redirected to a site that looks like yours, but it is a phishing site. And when payment details are entered, the bad actor takes advantage and commits fraudulent activities with the stolen payment info.

So, it is important to notify your user base about phishing scams and make your customers knowledgeable about cybersecurity.

Avoid public Wi-Fi networks

When you are working on your business site or logging into your servers, avoid public wifi networks. Often, these networks are poorly maintained on the security front. And they can become potential holes for password leaks.

However, public wifi networks can be speedy. So, when you cannot avoid using a public wifi network, use VPN services like ProtonVPN, CyberGhost VPN, TunnelBear VPN, etc, to mitigate the potential risks.

Keep your software update

To run an online business, you have to use various software components, from server OS to application middleware and frameworks.

Ensure that all these components are kept up to date timely and apply the patches as soon as they are available. Often these patches include performance improvements and security updates.

Some business owners might feel that this is a tedious process. But remember, one successful cyber attack has the potential to push you out of business for several days, if not entirely.


In this 21st century, web technology is growing and changing rapidly. So do the hackers from the IT underworld.

The steps mentioned above are necessary. But we cannot guarantee that they are sufficient. Moreover, each business case is different. You always have to keep yourself up to date. And it would help if you took care of your online business security from time to time. Failing which can make your business site a victim of cyber attacks.