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Neustar Security Solutions 2022 Predictions: Emerging Security Threats to Watch in 2022 - RDDoS, Small DDoS Attacks, and APIs in the Crosshairs

vmblog predictions 2022 

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2022.  Read them in this 14th annual series exclusive.

Emerging Security Threats to Watch in 2022: RDDoS, Small DDoS Attacks, and APIs in the Crosshairs

By Michael Kaczmarek, head of product management, Neustar

In our modern, connected world where customers expect everything to work at all times, if a brand's site or network goes down, not only does its image take a hit - it could also mean the loss of millions in revenue. Data breaches and cyberattacks are becoming more costly every year, and with companies more fully and rapidly embracing digitization, the range of vulnerabilities attackers can target is broadening perpetually. Even as organizations have moved aggressively to strengthen their defenses amid the 2020 shift to remote workforces, attackers' tactics have continued to evolve and the tools at their disposal have become more sophisticated.

In this landscape, it is more critical than ever for businesses to maintain active awareness of emerging and rising threats to their people, data, systems and infrastructure. 

RDDoS attacks are on the rise.

Ransomware may be getting all the headlines, but ransom-related distributed denial of service (RDDoS) attacks are also on the rise and will be a threat to watch closely in 2022. RDDoS attacks are when bad actors aim to extort would-be victims by threatening to take their systems offline via a DDoS attack. A recent Neustar International Security Council study found that 44% of organizations reported being the target or victim of a RDDoS attack in the last 12 months, while 41% were on the receiving end of a ransomware attack. DDoS attacks have become relatively simple to launch and are difficult to trace back to their origin, meaning cybercriminals are turning to RDDoS attacks over ransomware as an evolutionary point from DDoS but also a migration from ransomware-based attacks. Many companies become willing to pay millions of dollars in ransom following an attack after shying away from investing in the proper defense software and services that would have helped to prevent that attack. The best form of prevention is awareness, so we need to make it easier for security leaders within businesses to argue for cyber resilience investments.

Small DDoS attacks are not insignificant.

We will also continue to see a lot of activity around small DDoS attacks, sized 5 Gbps or less, capable of evading defenses and targeting specific infrastructure, applications and even APIs. Hackers have learned that smaller, more targeted attacks often deliver the kind of outcomes they aim for with larger attacks, since these small attacks can fly under the radar of traditional mitigation strategies and can therefore persist for quite some time. This stealth approach broadens the scope for more specific protocol attacks which target elements of the system that sit between the public internet and the target network. Sometimes these are designed to add undue load to the router's CPU; sometimes they target load balancers to limit site usability; sometimes they fill up firewall state tables, leaving the system more vulnerable. In this way, smaller, more precise DDoS methods can create opportunities for attackers to fulfil their actual goal, whether that is data theft, system intrusion, or business disruption - in some cases, degrading website performance over the long term, rather than disabling the website entirely. To prevent the ‘death by 1,000 papercuts' paradox from becoming a reality, organizations must first be aware of attackers' changing tactics. Businesses must evolve their defensive methodologies to be ‘always on' when it comes to the flow of traffic mitigating against small attacks.

Watch out for APIs.

APIs act as the communications "glue" that allows different elements of a service to interact with the others, both externally and internally, and are an increasingly critical cog for nearly every aspect of functionality for a digital business. Attacks against APIs pose an oft overlooked security risk, and we expect to see a continued increase in attackers targeting APIs to disrupt business and harm organizations in the new year. Since it's not an option to simply cut APIs out of the infrastructure, security leaders need to consider and set safe practices. Start by limiting requests and monitoring traffic rate, and then utilize a more robust application security strategy that includes APIs.

Cyberattacks and data breaches are an unfortunate reality of our modern digital business world, and the task of protecting an organization from cyberthreats will continue to command more attention and require more resources in the years to come. But staying attuned to emerging and rising threats like these could save valuable time, money and headaches in the year ahead.



Michael Kaczmarek 

Michael Kaczmarek heads product management for Neustar’s Security Solutions business. He is responsible for formulating the vision, defining the strategy and executing the tactics needed for the successful launch and expansion of products into new and existing markets. Michael directs the research efforts into DDoS attacks and DNS trends for Neustar working closely with the cross-functional team to publish insights on changes in the cybersecurity landscape.

Prior to joining Neustar, Michael was with Verisign for more than 18 years where he served in various capacities including VP of product management and marketing for Verisign Security Services. Before that, he was a systems engineering manager for Lockheed Martin in charge of their Solid Rocket Motor Disposition in Russia Program.

Michael is a Ponemon Fellow, a Professional Engineer (Inactive), and a Certified Project Management Professional. He holds a Bachelor of Science in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland and a Master of Science in environmental engineering from Johns Hopkins University.

Published Thursday, October 21, 2021 7:33 AM by David Marshall
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