The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has awarded Galois, Inc. with a $1.7 million dollar contract to defend against large and sophisticated distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. This should come as no surprise as DDoS attacks were up 180% in 2015, compared to those in 2014. Most recently (Jan. 8, 2016), a group that calls itself New World Hacking claimed responsibility for taking down both the British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC) global website, as well as Donald Trump’s website last week. A member of the New World Hacking group claimed that they used one of their own tools called BangStresser to launch the attack of up to 602 Gigabits per second (Gbps). While the authenticity of a screenshot of a web interface has not been verified, this attack has gone down as the largest DDoS attack recorded to date.
What is a DDoS Attack?
A DDoS attack is an attempt to make an online service unavailable by overwhelming it with traffic from multiple sources. They target a wide variety of important resources, from banks to news websites, and present a major challenge to making sure people can publish and access important information.
In a DDoS attack, the victim is potentially flooded with hundreds of thousands of sources, making it nearly impossible to stop the attack by blocking a single IP address. It’s also extremely difficult to distinguish between legitimate traffic and attack traffic.
The motivation behind DDoS attacks is not for typical, monetary reasons. Rather, these groups are performing acts of “hacktivism.” Hacktivists use DDoS attacks as a way to express their criticism of groups such as the government, politicians and news outlets. Anonymous is one of the best-known hacktivist groups as they were responsible for the cyberattack against ISIS.
According to their website, Galois has been performing computer science research and development since 1999. With many of the world’s foremost experts in technology and mathematics and a top-notch group of programmers and engineers, Galois is distinctively positioned to take on the world’s most difficult challenges in cybersecurity.
With their contract from the DHS, Galois has been tasked with decreasing mitigation response time by 50 percent, resulting in peak traffic reduction of 75 to 90 percent. They are also aiming to reduce the time between the start of the attack and the discovery of the attack by 25 percent. As a result of these decreases, organizations will be able to find and block DDoS attacks before reaching complete network saturation.