Belgium: The Latest Government to Be Halted by a DDoS Attack
At the beginning of May, a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack took down multiple government agencies, even BelgiumÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s parliament. The DDoS attack also impacted several public, scientific, and educational institutions.
All of the about 200 institutions impacted were connected to the BelgianÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s ISP Belnet network. These institutions either completely or partially lost their Internet connections.
Belnet took control of the situation and had things under control by the same evening. However, some customers remained unable to connect to certain websites and online services. Fortunately, the cybercriminals did not infiltrate the network, as it appears they only succeeded in saturating and disrupting network traffic.
The target of the attack was the network of the Belgian government, according to CEO of Secutec Geert Baudewijns, whose company provides security services for the Belgian government.
The number of DDoS attacks has been continuously rising in recent years. The scale of this particular event raises many questions for BelgiumÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s government and the EU as a whole. Are governments more vulnerable than ever to cyber attacks? And what can they do to increase their protection?
Before answering these questions, letÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s examine the type of attack conducted by the unknown perpetratorsÃ¢â‚¬â€and what kind of damage they could have done.
What is a DDoS Attack?
A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) is a class of denial-of-service attack that involves multiple compromised hosts working together to flood the victim site with large amounts of data. DDoS attacks are often done to a server or service, but can also be done at an individual level to a specific target.
This traffic flood aims to crash or slow down a website or network to make it impossible to use. An attack on a business can be described as an attempt to overwhelm the network with excessive requests, putting the systems of the business under a heavy load, thus shutting the business down or slowing it down to a halt.
DDoS attacks are often mistaken as DoS attacks. DDoS attacks occur when a large group of computers, usually located in different parts of the world, work together to flood a specific target with data or requests and take it offline. On the other hand, a DoS attack occurs when a single target is targeted with a concentrated amount of requests and data and taken offline.
In the case of this particular DDoS attack against Belgium, traffic flow that flooded the networks came from about 29 countries. The original sourceÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s location has not yet been determined.
What is the Goal of a DDoS attack?
The goal behind a DDoS attack is to prevent legitimate users from accessing the resource or service. The attack causes the target to become unreachable, denying access to users, services, or applications. A successful DDoS attack can take a website offline for a long period of time, whether for minutes, hours, or days.
Public institutions like banks, hospitals, and universities have had their websites disrupted as public services. And, for those institutions, the consequences can be disastrous. For example, peak-time DDoS attacks can cost organizations more than $100,000 or more an hour.
Protecting Institutions from DDoS Attacks
To circle back to the original two questions: are governments more vulnerable than ever to cyber attacks? And what can they do to increase their protection?
In short, yesÃ¢â‚¬â€governments are more at risk of being targeted for cyber attacks, including DDoS attacks. Unfortunately, cyber attacks are a weapon of war that is increasingly used in the digital world. These attacks can range from petty vandalism to high-profile hacks that can take down entire websites. Governments are especially susceptible to cyberattacks because they hold highly sensitive personal and corporate information.
While there has been mounting concern over the security of governments and their critical infrastructure, it is important to remember that there is no silver bullet for cybersecurity defences. Governments have different processes for protecting their computer systems, and there are always unknown risks. The best defence is often a layered approach that combines technical, legal, and economic factors.
Working With Cyber Security Professionals
As organizations increasingly rely on Internet-connected devices, and are increasingly connected to the Internet, the likelihood of a DDoS attack is only going to increase. For these reasons, many organizations have begun looking for ways to harden their DDoS defenses against future attacks.
A solution is for large corporations and governments to continue working with cybersecurity professionals to ensure the utmost protection. Cybersecurity consultants are as varied as the tasks they tackle. They may be generalists, tackling a wide array of tasks for their clients, or specialists focused on a particular area of expertise.
So, why work with a cybersecurity consultant agency? A cybersecurity team is someone who takes a proactive stance to protect an organization from the ever-increasing threat of cybersecurity risk. It is an investment in the future of your organization and the safety of your employees and customers. A cybersecurity team protects your organization by:
- Protecting the IT infrastructure and networks from cyber threats, which can range from the most sophisticated malware and viruses to low-level attacks on individual computers and networks.
- Providing the technical and legal expertise to identify threats and mitigate them.
- Performing compliance and testing activities to ensure that your organization is operating at a high level of security.
- Offering ongoing support and training on policies and procedures to make sure your organization is managing its security duties efficiently.
There’s no doubt that cyber attacks and governmentsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ ability to respond have become topics of great discussion in the past several years, with many government entities having been hit hard by cyber attacks. And with that, we can’t help but wonder how the future of cyber attacks will drastically change. While some believe that the government will only get more powerful and better at responding to cyber attacks, others think that the government will get more conservative and less invasive.
Anas Chbib is one of the most respected leaders in the security industry, known for his unmatched business ethics, inspirational entrepreneurial spirit, and fierce desire to offer organizations worldwide highly-secured environments in order to ensure business continuity and better service. Anas is currently the Founder and CEO of AGT, a highly respected, international cybersecurity firm.
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