"Their major campaign, Operation Payback, during the WikiLeaks saga in December 2010--against those supporting the U.S. government--was the turning point that shaped the security scene in 2011," according to the report. In short, by distributing easy-to-use DDoS tools, such as low-orbit ion cannon, Anonymous popularized DDoS attacks.
[ So you've been hacked. Learn 9 Ways To Minimize Data Breach Fallout. ]
But are DDoS attacks something that businesses and government agencies must simply endure, or, can they be more actively resisted? In fact, organizations can take a number of steps to at least mitigate the effect that DDoS attacks have on their websites, servers, databases, and other essential infrastructure.
1. Know you're vulnerable.
One lesson from the use of DDoS by Anonymous--as well as its sister hacktivist group LulzSec--is that any site is at risk. That's not meant to sound alarmist, but rather simply to acknowledge that the hacktivist agenda can seem random, at best. Indeed, after Anonymous came along, "the financial sector, which had not really considered itself as a prime target, was hit and urgently forced to confront threatening situations," according to the Radware report. "Government sites had been targeted before, but 2011 saw a dramatic increase in frequency, and neutral governments that felt themselves exempt, like New Zealand, were attacked."
2. DDoS attacks are cheap to launch, tough to stop.
As the recent Anonymous retaliation for the Megaupload takedown shows, hacktivists can quickly crowdsource "5,600 DDoS zealots blasting at once," as Anonymous boasted on Twitter, to take down the websites of everyone from the FBI and the Justice Department to the Motion Picture Association of America and Recording Industry Association of America. "DDoS is to the Internet what the billy club is to gang warfare: simple, cheap, unsophisticated, and effective," said Rob Rachwald, director of security strategy of Imperva, via email.
3. Plan ahead.
Stopping DDoS attacks requires preparation. If attacked, "folks that don't take active measures to ensure the resilience of their networks are going to get knocked over," said Roland Dobbins, Asia-Pacific solutions architect for Arbor Networks, via phone. "They need to do everything they can to increase resiliency and availability." Accordingly, he recommends implementing "all of the industry best and current practices for their network infrastructure, as well as applications, critical supporting services, including DNS."