Research Reveals Hacker Tactics: Cybercriminals Use DDoS as Smokescreen for Other Attacks on Businesses

Woburn, MA – November 21, 2016Kaspersky Lab today released findings from the 2016 Kaspersky Lab Corporate IT Security Risks survey1, which found that Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are sometimes used by cybercriminals to distract businesses while hackers sneak in through the back door.

Over half of businesses questioned (56 percent) are confident that DDoS has been used as a smokescreen for other kinds of cybercrime, and of those business respondents, a large majority (87 percent) reported that they had also been the victim of a targeted attack.

The survey showed that when businesses have suffered from cybercrime, DDoS has often been part of the attack tactics (29 percent). For example, a worrying one in four (26 percent) businesses that have suffered data loss as a result of a targeted attack, named DDoS as one of the contributing vectors.

Overall, more than half (56 percent) of business representatives surveyed believed that the DDoS attacks their companies had experienced were a smokescreen or decoy for other criminal activities. Why may DDoS attacks appeal to cybercriminals as part of their tactics?

“DDoS prevents a company from carrying on its normal activities by putting either public or internal services on hold,” said Kirill Ilganaev, head of DDoS protection, Kaspersky Lab. “This is obviously a real problem to businesses and it is often ‘all hands on deck’ in the IT team, to try and fix the problem quickly, so the business can carry on as before. DDoS can therefore be used not only as an easy way to stop the activity of a company, but also as a decoy to distract IT staff from another intrusion taking place through other channels.”

The survey also found that when DDoS attacks have been used by cybercriminals as a smokescreen, businesses also faced threats such as losses and exploits through mobile devices (81 percent), the actions of other organizations (78 percent), phishing scams (75 percent) and even the malicious activity of internal staff (75 percent).

“The research shows us that DDoS attacks are often aligned with other threats,” Ilganaev continued. “Businesses therefore need to be aware of the full threat landscape, and prepared to deal with multiple types of criminal activity at any time. Failure to do this could increase the collateral damage, on top of already significant losses caused by downtime and the resulting impact on reputation. Businesses need to use a reliable DDoS protection service to reduce the risk of DDoS and help staff concentrate their efforts on protecting the business from any threats that can be hidden as a result.”