DDOS attack

If you looked at a graph of denial of service attacks, you’d likely see a hockey stick of growth in 2011, according to research by DDOS-protection company Prolexic.

Denial of service attacks work by flooding a website with as much traffic as possible, eventually causing it to overload and shut itself down. It has become a favorite tactic among hacktivists, such as Anonymous, which have used DDOS attacks to take down websites such as the CIA’s¬†and The Pirate Bay.

Prolexic says between the fourth quarter of 2009 and 2010, DDOS attacks increased eight percent. However, when the company looked at the fourth quarter of 2010 and 2011, there was a 153 percent uptick. Dramatic, no?

Prolexic also realized that hackers preferred to attack web applications in 2010, but now they’re targeting the actual infrastructure, the network, to take down a website. In 2011, the average DDOS attack lasted 80 hours, at 185,404 packets per second, according to Prolexic’s research.

This season, Prolexic is particularly concerned for online retailers — particularly those without physical locations. Minutes offline can definitely impact a business’ bottom line, especially as we come closer and closer to days like Black Friday and the holiday season in general.

The company also provides a “DDOS downtime cost calculator” that shows businesses how much one of these attack would cost them.

DDOS image via Shutterstock