Denial of Service attacks are an unfortunate reality the internet is faced with. And for whatever reason, it is a topic that victims are reluctant to discuss openly. So when it does occur many organizations are unfortunately under prepared, and the damages caused by these attacks can be wide spread and surprising.
For-hire DDoS services are sometimes referred to as “stressers”. “Stresser” is an apt name for these services because when a DDoS attack hits, the traffic seeks to stress the servers and applications, but any negative outcomes from the attack also apply stress across the entire organization. In part 1 we explored how a DDoS attack has long lasting effects within the IT department. But by no means is the IT department the only team impacted by a DDoS attack, rather their particular metrics suffer the most demonstrable impact.
Apply enough stress to any system and the system will begin to degrade, particularly anywhere the system is weak. Your organization, staff, customers, supply, and demand are all components in a complicated system. While a DDoS attack probably won’t be the sole reason for any degradation, it will exacerbate potential issues and hasten their decline.
When examining the effects of a DDoS attack from the perspectives of other departments, leadership, or even the organization’s target audience the stresser aspect of the attack can be even more damaging than the temporary outage. The ways in which this stress can manifest will differ from organization to organization; as a starting point here are a couple scenarios that illustrate how DDoS induced stress might affect an organization:
For most organizations customer retention is important. It is generally more difficult to attract new customers than to encourage repeat customers. But how fickle is your customer base? When your services are offline there are customers that you have invested time and money to attract that will go to a competitor. You will not only lose this sale and the opportunity to gain repeat sales, but will have a more difficult time attracting sales in the future if your systems are considered insecure.
Because, even though a DDoS attack alone is unlikely to impact the integrity of your data security, the sudden loss of availability is a very public statement that your cyber security was inadequate. And potential customers will wonder if the organization can be trusted with the safety of their financial data.
This is why the weeks leading up to Black Friday are peak periods for ransom ddos attacks, because attackers know this is when a ddos will hurt an organization the most. Not only decimating what should be their busiest week for online orders, but also inflicting a lasting negative impact on future sales.
DDoS attacks are designed to exhaust resources, which also extends to human resources. Probable causes for employee turnover include: seeking better compensation, lack of job fulfilment, and feeling overworked.
Although nobody ever lists DDoS under reasons for leaving on their exit interview, it’s not too difficult to see how events that negatively impact an organizations balance sheet and thereby any commission or profit sharing compensation (as well as next years compensation adjustment calculations) might affect personnel.
And when these same events hinder an employee from performing their chosen profession, or negatively impact their performance metrics, add to their workload and put deadlines at risk the employee predictably will have a less enthusiastic outlook. If an organization has an employee moral / retention problem a DDoS attack is only going to exacerbate the issue.
The point here is not “One DDoS attack and all your customers and staff will flee in droves” it is this: In addition to the measurable direct “hard” costs associated with the attack and recovery discussed in part 1, there are also hidden “soft” costs to being the victim of a DDoS attack, and these soft costs will most likely manifest wherever the organization is weakest. If you don’t immediately know where that weakness is, maybe your next DDoS can help you find it.