Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks created chaos and disruption across industries in 2022. As cybercriminals utilize increasingly powerful botnets and clever techniques, no organization is safe from the DDoS threat.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the most devastating DDoS attacks of the past year. You’ll learn what makes these attacks so disruptive, analysis of the major incidents, and expert advice to defend your organization in the future. Let‘s dive in.
What is a DDoS Attack and How Does it Work?
Before recounting major events, let‘s quickly explain what precisely a DDoS attack is and how cybercriminals carry them out.
A distributed denial-of-service attack overwhelms a website or internet-connected system with more traffic than it can handle, rendering it unreachable to legitimate users. Attackers use botnets – networks of hijacked computers and devices – to bombard the target with junk requests from thousands or even millions of unique IP addresses.
The three main categories of DDoS attacks include:
Volumetric Attacks – Flood the network with massive amounts of traffic to consume all available bandwidth. UDP floods, ICMP floods, and amplification attacks fall into this bucket.
Protocol Attacks – Exploit weaknesses in Layer 3 and 4 protocols like SYN floods or ACK floods, which overwhelm connection resources.
Application Layer Attacks – Target Layer 7 vulnerabilities with slow POST attacks, GET floods, and other methods that crash application servers.
Attackers combine multiple approaches for greater impact. A 100Gbps attack can generate over 6.7 million packets per second! The wider the botnet, the longer and more devastating attacks can continue.
DDoS Attacks Are Spiking in Frequency and Severity
Distributed denial-of-service has long been a threat, but recent statistics reveal the alarming growth of this menace:
- 47% – Increase in total DDoS attacks Q3 2022 vs. Q3 2021, per Kaspersky.
- 95 hours – Average length of DDoS attacks in Q3 2022, up from 50 hours in Q2, per Kaspersky.
- 5.9 Gbps – Average DDoS attack bandwidth in Q3 2022, a 75% jump from Q2, per Kaspersky.
- 20+ days – Longest reported DDoS attack in Q2 2022 lasted over 495 hours of disruption.
- $9.4 million – Average cost of a data breach in the US in 2022, per IBM.
These trends demonstrate how DDoS attacks are increasing in duration and intensity. Cybercriminals have built botnets capable of launching attacks that last weeks rather than minutes. The financial fallout of such disruptions places enormous pressure on victims to pay ransoms or accede to extortionist demands.
Next, let‘s examine some of the most high-profile DDoS incidents from the past year.
Massive DDoS Attacks That Made Headlines in 2022
Major corporations, government agencies, and critical infrastructure suffered DDoS attacks in 2022 that made international news. Here are some of the most notable:
Activision Blizzard – September 2022
This video game leader suffered an outage across World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, Overwatch and other popular titles. The 3.5 hour disruption left millions of gamers unable to access online gameplay services. No user data was compromised.
Estonia – August 2022
Over 200 Estonian websites faced DDoS attacks after the country removed Soviet-era monuments. Russia-based hacktivist group Killnet claimed responsibility for the attacks aimed at government and private sector sites.
Cloudflare – April & June 2022
Cloudflare mitigated one of the largest DDoS attacks ever recorded against a client in April, peaking at 15.3 million requests per second (RPS). Another attack in June reached an astronomical 26 million RPS.
Google Cloud Customer – June 2022
A Google Cloud Armor customer suffered a 46 million RPS DDoS attack utilizing more than 5,000 IP addresses across 132 different countries. Google‘s services absorbed the massive assault.
Albanian Government – July 2022
Albania preemptively took all government websites offline in response to incoming DDoS attacks after recently transitioning public services online. Microsoft assisted with incident response.
United States – Q2 2022
The U.S. endured 43% of DDoS attacks worldwide in Q2 2022, more than any other country, according to Kaspersky. Targets included banks, school districts, courts, and other organizations.
These examples showcase how today‘s powerful botnets enable attackers to overwhelm enterprises, government systems, and critical infrastructure with terrifying scale and persistence.
But DDoS is not solely a brute force game. Attackers utilize clever techniques and subtle approaches to bypass defenses in creative ways. Let‘s analyze the top DDoS attack vectors of 2022.
Top DDoS Attack Vectors in 2022
…[additional statistics and examples of common attack types seen in 2022]
While DDoS attacks poured in from all vectors in 2022, several particularly sneaky or devastating attack types emerged:
Encrypted Attacks – Greater use of HTTPS encryption hides the contents of malicious traffic, bypassing defenses.
Burst Attacks – Short, recurring "micro-bursts" of traffic avoid detection but cause cumulative damage.
SSL Attacks – Exploiting SSL/TLS connections overwhelms encryption resources and takes down websites.
Ransom DDoS (RDDoS) – After launching an attack, attackers demand ransom to stop, adding extortion.
Multi-Vector Attacks – Combining multiple DDoS vectors like UDP, SYN floods, and TLS abuses in one massive onslaught.
These and other clever techniques allowed attackers to stay several steps ahead of defenders, resulting in the devastating attacks detailed earlier.
So what motivates cybercriminals to carry out such disruptive actions in the first place? Let‘s explore that next.
What‘s Behind the Surge in DDoS Attacks?
…[analysis of cybercriminal motivations for DDoS attacks]
- Cyber warfare
- Competitive disruption
Understanding the incentives behind DDoS helps organizations anticipate risks and shore up any glaring vulnerabilities that could attract attacks.
Bolstering defenses is crucial because today‘s terabit DDoS assaults can inflict serious damage within minutes. Let‘s examine best practices to protect your organization.
How Enterprises Can Defend Against DDoS Devastation
While completely stopping DDoS is nearly impossible, proactive controls can greatly reduce your risk of business disruption. Top strategies include:
Cloud-Based DDoS Protection – Route traffic through cloud scrubbing services like Cloudflare to filter out junk traffic before it hits your network perimeter.
Overprovision Bandwidth – Work with your ISP to essentially have "surge capacity" bandwidth ready to counter volumetric floods.
Enable Security Features – Leverage DoS/DDoS prevention and deep packet inspection capabilities on networking devices like next-gen firewalls.
Plan Incident Response – Have playbooks ready to rapidly detect attacks, alert stakeholders, and execute mitigation steps.
Promote Cyber Hygiene – Prevent malware infections of employee devices that could involuntarily draft them into DDoS botnets.
Maintain Asset Inventories – Keep track of all internet-connected assets, especially for old or shadow IT, to understand your potential attack surface.
Conduct Attack Simulation – Test defenses against DDoS-like loads using ethical red teams and load testing tools.
No solution provides absolute protection against DDoS. However, combining prudent precautions significantly reduces your vulnerability.
The DDoS Threat Will Continue Evolving
As long as cybercriminals have motives to disrupt organizations digitally, DDoS attacks will persist. The incidents of 2022 provided yet another reminder that enterprises must take this threat seriously and invest in robust defenses.
It‘s impossible to predict precisely how DDoS tactics will advance going forward. However, we know determined attackers will keep innovating to find backdoors through even the toughest perimeter defenses.
By understanding the latest DDoS trends, hardening your defenses across the kill chain, and preparing incident response plans, your organization can become highly resilient. While challenging, building robust security helps maintain business continuity and customer confidence despite rising attacks.
Stay vigilant out there! We hope this guide provided greater insight into the NDDoS landscape and how to protect your organization in 2022 and beyond.