Researchers recorded approximately 2.9 million DDoS attacks in the first quarter of 2021, marking a 31% increase from the same period in 2020.
Netscout's Atlas Security Engineering & Response Team (ASERT) anticipated last year that the high DDoS numbers recorded in 2020 would extend into 2021. Now researchers report all three months of the first quarter surpassed the 900,000-attack mark. If this activity holds, they say, DDoS attack activity is set to exceed the 10-million attack threshold recorded last year.
This activity is unusual, the researchers say, as January and February are typically the slowest months for DDoS attacks. In 2021 they observed 972,000 attacks in January alone, beating last May's record for the highest number of attacks seen in one month.
They note the size of DDoS attacks has "remained relatively flat." with no large terabit attacks spotted. However, attackers seek new ways to make their attacks faster and harder to mitigate. Most (42%) DDoS attacks last five to 10 minutes; those spanning less than five minutes dropped from 24% to 19% of all DDoS attacks. Those with a longer duration stayed the same.
Healthcare organizations were hit with about 7,000 DDoS attacks in the third quarter of 2020, 10,000 in the fourth quarter, and 8,400 in the first quarter of this year, marking a 53% increase from the first quarter of 2020. Researchers also report a 41% increase in attacks targeting educational services over the past three quarters, with 45,000 in the first quarter of 2021 alone.