Public cloud used to power supercharged DDoS attacks

A quarter of DDoS attacks are launched using public cloud services, with Microsoft Azure the most commonly used

Azure interface

Public cloud is increasingly being used by hackers to launch DDoS attacks, with a quarter of criminals using such services to launch malicious attacks between July 2017 and July 2018.

This has increased significantly compared to the previous 12 months when just 18.5% of attacked exploited public cloud services, according to research by Link11's Security Operation Center (LSOC). 

Microsoft Azure was the most used platform abused by hackers, with 38.7% of attacks originating from there, while AWS was used in 32.7% of incidents. Google lagged behind, being used for 10.7% of attacks.

"The people behind DDoS attacks are embracing the use of public cloud services for the same reasons as legitimate organisations: the services provide flexible, on-demand capacity and resources, and can be provisioned in just a few minutes," said Aatish Pattni, regional director, UK & Ireland at Link11.

"For threat actors, the benefits are even more compelling because they will often use stolen credit card details and false identities to pay for the services. This makes the perpetrators almost impossible to trace, even though providers such as Amazon are taking strong action against misuse, and asking users to report any suspected abuse of their services."

Link 11 said public cloud proves particularly popular with hackers because of speed. Offering bandwidth of between 1 and 10Gbps, public cloud services provided by the most widely used providers allow criminals to shoot 1,000 times as many bots at websites they want to attack compared to using individual devices such as IoT equipment, it added. 

However, Link11 warned that there is little businesses can do to prevent malicious actors from using public cloud implementations to launch attacks as they're commonly using the same platforms for their infrastructure. Instead, the company advises businesses to better analyse communication between their public cloud service and their own network so anomalies can be picked up and dealt with quickly. 

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