January 23, 2013

U.S. banks became very familiar with Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks after a number of them were hit by such attacks last year. Some large institutions such as Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase were among the victims of last year's attacks. But a new study by the Ponmeon Institute, an independent research firm focused on information security, sheds some new light on just how widespread the attacks were. The study, which was sponsored by IT security vendor Corero Network Security, found that more than half of banking IT professionals surveyed had a DDoS attack at their bank in 2012.

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In all 64% of the respondents said their institution had a DDoS attack last year, and the Ponemon Institute said that on average the banks represented in the study experienced 2.8 DDoS attacks over the last year. More than 10% of the respondents said that they had at least six DDoS attacks. And 43% of the respondents expected the attacks to increase this year, compared to 22% who thought they would decrease, and 35 percent who said the number of attacks would stay consistent with last year's numbers. Despite the expectation of more attacks to come, only 30% of those surveyed said their banks is panning to purchase an anti-DDoS technology in the next 6-12 months, with many respondents citing a lack of sufficient resources - particularly in terms of IT professionals with expertise in dealing with DDoS attacks - for the scarcity of action.

Diminished production from IT staff was most frequently cited by the respondents as the most severe consequence of DDoS attacks, followed closely by repetitional damage and diminished productivity for end users. Overall DDoS attacks were ranked as the second most dangerous information security threat to banks after zero day attacks, which target software bugs.

The Ponemon Institute surveyed 650 banking IT professionals for the study from institutions ranging from community banks to national ones, with more than 64% of them working with institutions with at least 1,000 employees.

Jonathan Camhi is a graduate of the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism, where he focused on international reporting and interned at the Hindustan Times in Delhi, ...