Distributed Denial of Service Attacks May be on the Rise but HR Organizations are Far From Defenseless

By Adam Stern, Founder and CEO, Infinitely Virtual

Adam Stern, Founder and CEO, Infinitely Virtual

The first wave of emotions, victims say, is a combination of panic and powerlessness. They click and reclick on files on their desktops—agendas for the weekend Christian camp, payroll data for hundreds of teachers or medical information for veterans—to no avail. Someone, or something, has converted the files to foreign MP3 files or an encrypted RSA format. And next to these unopenable files the victims get a ransom note in a text file or HTML file: “Help_Decrypt_Your_Files.”

"According to industry analysts, volumetric attacks rank as the most common type of DDoS incident, accounting for an estimated 65 percent of the total reported"

Regrettably, hacking is the new normal.

There’s nothing alarmist about acknowledging that ransomware and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are becoming more acute. As ZDNet recently noted, a report from cybersecurity researchers at Kaspersky Lab revealed 2,900 new ransomware malware modifications between January and March 2016—a 14 percent jump from the fourth quarter. With the corporate sector accounting for about 17 percent of those victimized, it’s clear that attacks are insidious and by no means limited to larger, more visible enterprises.

Given the rising threat of malevolent actors subjecting human resources departments and others to ransom demands and the sheer frequency of DDoS incidents, businesses need to up the ante in terms of how they regard security, and how they anticipate and respond to the risk of business interruption online.

“Whether job seekers submit their resumes via email attachments or LinkedIn, the files present risks, and hackers continue to target human resources organizations, particularly with ransomware,” writes Kacy Zurkus, Security Specialist for IDG’s CSO, contemplating the risks to HR from hacks and malware. “It's no secret that this year has been deemed the year of ransomware, and for every bitcoin criminals are earning, there's a newly evolved version making its way through your files. Whether it's the submission and collection of resumes, posting for job openings, or storing the personal identification information of all personnel, human resources is ripe with data.”

Part of the problem, she observes, is that few HR departments speak IT, so it should come as no surprise that HR is often open season for hackers. “HR has access to personnel records and financial systems, making it a juicy target for malicious actors,” Zurkus notes. “Due to the very nature of their work, HR personnel open the enterprise up to greater risks simply by doing their job--opening emails and reading resume attachments.”

The latest perp in this case is the massive volumetric attack. These types of attacks represent something new and especially troubling, and no single firewall can stop them. According to industry analysts, volumetric attacks rank as the most common type of DDoS incident, accounting for an estimated 65 percent of the total reported.

What makes these volumetric attacks special? Consider that a front-line hosting company typically supports multiple 1 gig per second interfaces to the Internet. When someone begins a volumetric attack, they’re likely to send 800 gigs per second through a pipe that simply can’t accept anywhere near that much data.

As the security environment changes, so should every organization’s response to that environment. And here’s the encouraging news: the IT community is beginning to respond effectively. Providers in increasing numbers are implementing DDoS attack protection for their clients, across the board.

New, state of the art volumetric attack protection provides real-time DDoS mitigation through automatic analysis of DDoS alerts and deployment of routing commands to ensure that immediate action is taken when legitimate DDoS attacks are detected–all without any human intervention. Volumetric attack protection is precisely the kind of proactive step that providers need to take on behalf of HR and the rest of the enterprise, and that users need to demand.

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