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Government-targeted DDoS attacks surge by over 1,800% in 2021, report says

Government-targeted DDoS attacks surge by over 1,800% in 2021, report says

BROOKLYN, N.Y.—The volume of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks -cyberattacks with a goal to make an online website unavailable by overwhelming it with a flood of internet traffic - per customer aimed at the government sector soared by over 1,881% in 2021 compared to 2020’s figures, according to data presented by Atlas VPN.

The data also revealed that the actual attack events decreased by 70%, suggesting fewer but more severe DDoS attacks aimed at the sector. 

According to Atlas VPN, governments worldwide nowadays face the challenge of protecting their cyberspace in addition to their physical borders. Online presence creates an additional attack surface that can be used in coordinated attacks, such as DDoS attacks.

Malicious actors use DDoS attacks to disrupt government communication and limit information in an effort to decapitate governments. DDoS attacks are also used by hacktivists as part of political protests. 

"DDoS attacks are often used as a tool in a cyber warfare to disrupt governments by rendering their online resources unavailable," said Ruta Cizinauskaite, cybersecurity researcher and writer at Atlas VPN. "Hacktivists also use DDoS attacks as part of political protests."

The figures are based on Radware's 2021-2022 Global Threat Analysis Report. The report reviews the year's most important cybersecurity events and provides detailed insights into the attack activity of 2021.

DDoS attacks were not limited to the government sector last year, the data showed. The volume of DDoS attacks per customer aimed at the retail industry skyrocketed by 6,288%. Next up was the healthcare sector, which experienced a 260% growth in DDoS attack volume per customer. 

The research and education sector occupies fourth place on the list with a 62% rise in DDoS attack volume in 2021, followed by online commerce and gaming with 41%. Meanwhile, the technology sector saw a 36% increase in DDoS attack volume per customer last year. 

While the volume of DDoS attacks grew across most industries last year, finance and telecom sectors experienced a decrease. DDoS attack volume plummeted by 34% and 58%, respectively, across the two industries. Overall, the average attack volume per customer rose by 26%.

Government sector more prepared to mitigate DDoS attack risks 

Despite rising DDoS attacks volume, the government sector handles cyberattacks more effectively than before, according to Atlas VPN.

In 2021, the government sector mitigated more than 10 times the volume of attacks compared to 2020. In 2020, the blocked volume of DDoS attacks aimed at the sector stood at 1.22%. Meanwhile, in 2021 the number rose by 12.08% to 13.3%, making the government the top third sector with the highest volume of blocked DDoS attacks in 2021. 

However, the retail industry had the largest spike in mitigated DDoS attack volume and the second biggest volume of blocked attacks last year. In 2021, the volume increased by 20.89% from 0.61% to 21.5%.

In addition to government and retail, the volume of blocked DDoS attacks aimed at the healthcare industry grew by 5.98%, from 6.12% in 2020 to 12.1% in 2021.

The rest of the top attacked industries experienced a decrease in the volume of blocked DDoS attacks last year compared to the year before. Telecom saw a 17.93% plunge from 23.4% in 2020 to 5.47% in 2021, and finance had a 10.81% decline from 17% to 6.19%. Meanwhile, online commerce and gaming had a 6.4% fall from 28.7% to 22.3%. However, even with the drop, the sector experienced the highest volume of DDoS attacks out of all in 2021. 

Other industries with declining DDoS attack volume include technology with a 2.8% drop and research and education with a 0.63% decrease.



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