European Cyber Report 2023

  • Lisa Fröhlich
  • March 15, 2024

Table of content

    European Cyber Report 2023
    • Turbo attacks on the rise: In 2023, DDoS attacks reached critical level after just 14 seconds on average. Compared to the average of 55 seconds in the same period in 2022, these “turbo attacks” reached critical volume significantly faster. 
    • Attacks last longer: The longest attack in 2023 lasted 4,489 minutes, which corresponds to 74 hours and 49 minutes. The longest DDoS attack in 2022 lasted just 1,695 minutes, or 28 hours and 15 minutes.  
    • Good bots, bad bots, botnets: Two thirds of observed traffic is machine-based. Link11 records around 180,000 WAF events in its network every day. 

    The new European Cyber Report for 2023 not only highlights the increasing complexity of the threat landscape, but also shows how AI-based and automated security solutions offer comprehensive security while increasing cyber resilience. The in-depth analysis of DDoS attacks registered in the Link11 network is supplemented by additional content from the areas of web protection and web performance to offer a holistic view of the current landscape. 

    In 2023, the Link11 network recorded a drastic increase of more than 70% in DDoS attacks compared to the previous year, with politically motivated attacks contributing significantly to this. These attacks targeted well-known entities worldwide, such as German federal states and authorities, the European Investment Bank, and Microsoft.  

    Military conflicts led to a rapid increase in DDoS attacks worldwide 

    Geopolitical tensions are increasing worldwide, meaning that the threat of DDoS attacks continues to grow. Many of these DDoS attacks target critical infrastructure (CRITIS), public institutions, and political organizations. Hardly a month has gone by without cyberattacks on NATO countries and their critical infrastructures.

    In addition to the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, the conflict in Israel has triggered a further increase in politically motivated DDoS attacks by well-organized attackers. Prominent actors include the pro-Russian groups NoName057(16) and Anonymous Sudan. What they all have in common is that they use DDoS attacks as their preferred means of ideologically motivated cyberattacks.  

    Web applications and APIs pose a major security risk 

    Every critical security vulnerability found in unpatched software is a potential gateway for cybercriminals. Web applications in particular pose a major security risk. The recent decision by the EU that Apple must open its interfaces to third-party providers in order to comply with the Digital Markets Act in the EU also increases the pressure for security solutions in the area of web applications.

    A conventional firewall is often not enough to effectively protect web applications. This is where the Web Application Firewall (WAF) comes into play. Around 180,000 weakened WAF events are registered in the Link11 network every day. 

    Increasing danger from AI-driven bots 

    Every year, companies are confronted with considerable damage caused by attacks from bad bots on their digital assets. According to Juniper Research, online fraud by bots is expected to increase by 131% by 2027. The rapid development of generative AI technologies could even accelerate this further. This trend affects companies in all industries, as automated attacks are an increasing threat. 

    Automated traffic on a website means greater consumption of computing resources. Depending on who is requesting the data, this can be both positive and negative: Bots and software from partners and known organizations can be a benefit, while unknown bots are a gray area. In the Link11 network, two thirds of the observed traffic is machine-based.  

    Jens-Philipp Jung (CEO, Link11 Group): “The observations of the Link11 Security Operations Center (LSOC) in 2023 make it clear that the impact of cyber incidents requires a risk-based, holistic cybersecurity strategy. Instead of seeing cybersecurity as a pure cost factor, it is much more about enabling innovation and growth with secure environments and ultimately transforming abstract security concepts into competitive advantages. It is important to pay much more attention to known vulnerabilities and to take effective protective measures.”  

    The full report is available for download here.

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