DDoS Attacks Plateauing
People peer into a server room during the grand opening of Hewlett-Packard's Executive Briefing Center in Palo Alto, California (Credit: Reuters)

In a bid to highlight what a threat DDoS attacks are, Google Ideas has teamed up with Arbor Networks to bring the data to life.

Then Digital Attack Map is a live data visualisation of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks taking place around the globe, built using the anonymous information supplied by Arbor Networks' ATLAS global threat monitoring system.

The tool, which is embedded below, will allow you to see where attacks are taking place and more importantly, where the attacks are coming from. It will also allow you to investigate historic attacks and find reports on the outages which happened on a particular day.

One of the reasons the site was established was as a way of highlighting the effect DDoS attacks have on free speech.

"Sites covering elections are brought down to influence their outcome, media sites are attacked to censor stories, and businesses are taken offline by competitors looking for a leg up. Protecting access to information is important for the Internet and important for free expression," Google said.

2,000 attacks every day

According to Arbor Networks more than 2,000 DDoS attacks are mounted every single day, with one third of all downtime incidents attributable to DDoS attacks.

DDoS is one of the most basic weapons in cyberspace, used by hacktivists and cyber-criminals to force websites offline. A DDoS attacks sees huge volumes of traffic from multiple sources directed at a specific URL, overwhelming the server hosting the website and preventing anyone from accessing the site.

DDoS attacks are typically carried out by botnets, which are networks of zombie PCs which have been infected by malware allowing them to be controlled by a single user.

DDoS as a service

Cyber-criminals offer DDoS attacks as a service, charging as little as £5 an hour to knock any website offline. The tactic is used as a way of blackmailing online services such as gambling websites who would rather pay a small fee than potentially lose a large about of revenue by being offline for a particular period of time.

The other major use of DDoS attacks comes from hacktivist groups such as Anonymous.

"Beginning in 2010, and driven in no small part by the rise of Hacktivism, we've seen a renaissance in DDoS attacks that has led to innovation in the areas of tools, targets and techniques. Today, DDoS is a complex threat that mixes flood, application and infrastructure attacks in a single, blended attack," Arbor said in a statement announcing the deal with Google Ideas.


"The people at Google Ideas have really done an amazing job bringing Arbor's global DDoS attack data to life," said Arbor Networks President Colin Doherty. "The goal of this collaboration was to show what a global threat DDoS is and how DDoS can be used to suppress speech and threaten open access to information."

In March what was called the largest attack in internet history was reported against anti-spam service Spamhaus, hitting 300Gbps at its height. While this level of attack hasn't be seen since, the overall size of attacks has been on the increase according to Arbor Networks.

"When Arbor Networks first began working with leading network operators in 2000, flood attacks were in the 400Mb/sec range. Today, they regularly exceed 100Gb/sec. The sheer size of the attacks is not all that has changed," Arbor Networks said.