cyber crime
Cybersecurity Insights North America

Software Publisher DDoS Attacks Rise by Over 600% Finds NETSCOUT

During the second half of 2021, cybercriminals have launched approximately 4.4 million Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, bringing the total number of DDoS attacks in 2021 to 9.75 million finds NETSCOUT SYSTEMS, INC., (NASDAQ: NTCT) as it publishes the findings from its bi-annual Threat Intelligence Report. These attacks represent a three per cent decrease from the record number set during the height of the pandemic but continue at a pace that’s 14 per cent above pre-pandemic levels.

The report details how the second half of 2021 established high-powered botnet armies and rebalanced the scales between volumetric and direct-path (non-spoofed) attacks, creating more sophisticated operating procedures for attackers and adding new tactics, techniques, and methods to their arsenals.

“While it may be tempting to look at the decrease in overall attacks as threat actors scaling back their efforts, we saw significantly higher activity compared to pre-pandemic levels,” said Richard Hummel, threat intelligence lead, NETSCOUT. “The reality is that attackers are constantly innovating and adapting new techniques, including the use of server-class botnets, DDoS-for-Hire services, and increased used direct-path attacks that continually perpetuate the advancement of the threat landscape.”

Other key findings from the NETSCOUT H2’21 Threat Intelligence Report include:

  • DDoS extortion and ransomware operations are on the rise. Three high-profile DDoS extortion campaigns simultaneously operating is a new high. Ransomware gangs including Avaddon, REvil, BlackCat, AvosLocker, and Suncrypt were observed using DDoS to extort victims. Because of their success, ransomware groups have DDoS extortion operators masquerading as affiliates like the recent REvil DDoS Extortion campaign.
  • VOIP services were targets of DDoS extortion. Worldwide DDoS extortion attack campaigns from the REvil copycat were waged against several VOIP services providers. One VOIP service provider reported $9-12million in revenue loss due to DDoS attacks.
  • DDoS-for-hire services made attacks easy to launch. NETSCOUT examined 19 DDoS-for-Hire services and their capabilities that eliminate the technical requirements and cost of launching massive DDoS attacks. When combined, they offer more than 200 different attack types.
  • APAC attacks increased by seven per cent as other regions subsided. Amid ongoing geopolitical tensions in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, the Asia-Pacific region saw the most significant increase in attacks year over year compared to other regions.
  • Server-class botnet armies arrived. Cybercriminals have not only increased the number of Internet-of-Things (IoT) botnets but have also conscripted high-powered servers and high-capacity network devices, as seen with the GitMirai, Meris, and Dvinis botnets.
  • Direct-path attacks are gaining in popularity. Adversaries inundated organisations with TCP- and UDP-based floods, otherwise known as direct-path or non-spoofed attacks. Meanwhile, a decrease in some amplification attacks drove down the number of total attacks.
  • Attackers targeted select industries. Those hardest hit include software publishers (606 per cent increase), insurance agencies and brokers (257 per cent increase), computer manufacturers (162 per cent increase), and colleges, universities, and professional schools (102 per cent increase)
  • The fastest DDoS attack recorded a 107 per cent year-over-year increase. Using DNS, DNS amplification, ICMP, TCP, ACK, TCP RST, and TCP SYN vectors, the multi-vector attack against a target in Russia recorded 453 Mpps.

NETSCOUT’s Threat Intelligence Report covers the latest trends and activities in the DDoS threat landscape. It covers data captured from NETSCOUT’s Active Level Threat Analysis System (ATLAS) coupled with insights from NETSCOUT’s ATLAS security engineering and response team.

The visibility and insights compiled from the global DDoS attack data, which is represented in the Threat Intelligence Report and can be seen in the Omnis Threat Horizon, fuel the ATLAS intelligence feed used across NETSCOUT’s Omnis security portfolio to detect and block threat activity for enterprises and service providers worldwide.


  • Francis is a journalist and our lead LatAm correspondent, with a BA in Classical Civilization, he has a specialist interest in North and South America.

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