1CloudAkamai, the leading provider of cloud services finally tied the knot with Prolexic Technologies, the global leader in Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) protection services. The deal has been in the making for months now and was officially announced just this week.

Together, they are able to offer a more comprehensive portfolio of cloud-based Web security solutions that protect data centers, websites, and business applications amidst a threat landscape that is constantly evolving. Fact is that a combination of political and technological factors has made DDoS attacks more frequent and, in some cases, more damaging than ever.

Just recently, for instance, Prolexic warned of DDoS attacks that manipulate stock and trading prices, bringing to light with an analysis of nearly a dozen global DDoS attacks that cybercriminals are using DDoS attacks in an attempt to influence market values and interfere with exchange platforms.

“Typically, DDoS attacks are launched to fuel public discourse, or for revenge, extortion and blackmail – but that is changing,” said Stuart Scholly, president of Prolexic. “During the past few years in particular, DDoS attack campaigns have posed a significant threat to the financial services industry, as well as other publicly traded businesses and trading platforms. As part of our DDoS attack forensics, we have uncovered a disturbing trend: Many of these malicious attacks appear to be intent on lowering the target’s stock price or currency values, or even temporarily preventing trades from taking place.”

Quite obviously new profit models for DDoS attacks against financial firms evolved as well as new attack types and tools to perform campaigns. In fact, underground markets spring up as needed to meet the demand for DDoS botnets and attack tools. Besides, the foe does not even have to go to such lengths, considering that the public image of a global business or financial service is closely associated with its cyber presence. Taking a publicly traded firm or exchange platform offline, and spreading rumors that raise questions about its ability to conduct business online, is often enough to create false or misleading appearances and to manipulate the market. In fact, the Prolexic Security and Engineering Team (PLXsert) found a direct relationship between DDoS cyber-attacks and a temporary change in the valuation of a company.

“A few specific cyber-terrorist groups are responsible for most of these attacks. So far they have not been successful in bringing down an entire major marketplace,” explained Scholly. “But DDoS attacks keep getting bigger, stronger, longer and more sophisticated, so we cannot be complacent. What’s more, the risk goes beyond the actual outage – social media chatter and media coverage can amplify the perceived effect, disruption and damage caused by a cyber-attack campaign.”

Still, the sole use of DDoS attacks usually can’t bring down an entire major marketplace, but the prevalence of "combo attacks", making more and more companies to turn to cloud-based web security, entering Akamai’s playground.

According to IHS’s Cloud and big data report, global business spending for infrastructure and services related to the Cloud will reach an estimated US$174.2bn in 2014- a 20% increase from last year and claims that by 2017 enterprise spending on the cloud will reach approximately $235.1bn.

Besides that, the consultancy firm estimates global consumer subscriptions to the cloud will jump to 730m this year from 630m in 2013 with the growth coming mainly from an increasing number of small and large enterprises moving applications to the Cloud while looking at data analytics to observe consumer behaviour.

Akamai’s DDoS mitigation, for example, is architected for near infinite scale so that it can "afford" to inspect all requests in terms of performance.

Not to mention that according to Prolexic, DDoS attacks keep getting bigger, stronger, longer and more sophisticated, so most probably they can’t be ruled out in the future.

Multi-vector attacks in particular seem to be able to create conditions that can affect public perception (i.e., customers) and the perception of market participants (i.e., investors). Anyway, companies targeted by these multi-vector attacks have faced extensive scrutiny and loss of public confidence in their ability to conduct business online successfully.

However, throughout the history of Internet connectivity, DDoS attacks have proven to be a significant threat to global enterprises and the availability of online resources. This threat continues to the present day. But by combining Prolexic’s industry-leading DDoS protection and mitigation services with Akamai’s platform of cloud services, the security perimeter outside the data center data is at least extended. The joined forces deliver, optimize and secure online content and business applications, that way preventing theft and Denial of Service (DoS) attacks. Let’s not forget Akamai’s Kona Security Solutions that in addition delivers unmatched cloud security solutions and protection from increasingly large and sophisticated web attacks - including SQL injection and DDoS attacks - making DDoS attacks against global markets at least more difficult for perpetrators.

By Daniela La Marca