Cyberattacks and Distributed Denial of Service Mitigation

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A cyberattack is an attempt to damage, disrupt, or gain unauthorized access to a computer, computer system, or electronic communications network.

Over the past several years, several significant cyber-incidents have affected companies and government networks.   According to an article published by the New York Times, the F.B.I. now ranks cybercrime as one of its top law enforcement activities, costing billions of dollars with no end in sight.  In December 2013, Target reported a data breach which included theft of credit and debit card information from more than 40 million customers.  Then, in April 2014, Michaels, an arts and crafts supplier, estimated that data from three million customers’ payment cards may have been stolen over several months.  In June 2014, Community Health Systems, which operates 206 hospitals in 29 states, said that personal data including names, birthdates, Social Security numbers and addresses of 4.5 million patients had been compromised in a Chinese cyberattack on its network.  By summer of 2014, JPMorgan Chase said account information of 83 million households was compromised.  Later, cyberattacks affected businesses like Home Depot, Staples and Sony Pictures.

DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks target a connection with traffic, often with the goal of taking service offline.  Any business can be a target and anyone with an Internet connection can find tools to launch an attack.  These attacks can target connection bandwidth, security infrastructure, and a wide variety of applications that companies rely on, including HTTP, HTTPS, VoIP, DNS, and SMTP.

Motivation for these attacks can vary and they can come from around the world.  Some may use DDoS to make a political statement, others to extort money.  Attacks may also be a smokescreen to cover other illegal activity.  While administrators focus on getting their website online, the offender can plant malware or steal information.

Like most networks, PenTeleData has been the target of Distributed Denial of Service attacks. These attacks cause wide spread issues and affect all customer traffic.   Many of these attacks are intended to interrupt service or simply cause mayhem, but we take each one very seriously.  We are proactive about planning and respond quickly when they happen.  As part of our NextGen Network upgrade, we have implemented a mitigation solution that constantly monitors traffic entering from the Internet.  When an attack is being directed toward our users we automatically route the traffic through a specialized process that handles scrubbing out the nasty bits and sending on all the rest– in a totally transparent manner!  When the attack stops, the traffic is routed back via the normal path.  This is a network wide feature and something that’s included in our offering at no additional cost to our customers.