DDoS against Civil Society — 2019 Trends and Where We’re Going


In December 2019, the MONITOR project held the second webinar in its Threat Analysis and Sharing series. During the webinar Dmitri Vitaliev, Founder and Director of eQualit.ie, discussed the current state of DDoS attacks against civil society organizations around the globe. The webinar covered the evolution of DDoS from its inception in the 1990’s, as well as the mitigation tools available to civil society organizations, including eQualit.ie’s DDoS protection service Deflect.

Key Takeaways:

DDoS is increasingly used as a tool for censorship and repression online. DDoS originated as a civil disobedience strategy in the “Flood Net” network attacks of the early 90’s  (see also: Distributed Solutions for Distributed Attacks). DDoS was subsequently employed as a racketeering tactic to extort security subscriptions from businesses, but has more recently been used to silence speech online as independent media and human rights organizations have come under attack. DDoS attacks are now primarily malware run, often on rented servers known as “Stressor services”.

The majority of DDoS attacks are rudimentary and easily preventable. However, protection requires preparation: mitigation steps are limited once you are actually under attack. Deflect’s mitigation services protect against DDoS attacks of differing complexity, and employ machine learning tools to identify swiftly normal and malicious traffic. Read more about Deflect’s machine learning tools.

Investigations are a valuable strategy to reduce the prevalence and impunity of DDoS. Through its investigations, Deflect exposes the methods and infrastructure used by attackers, which are then reported to web hosts for takedowns. The publication of reports empowers both  investigators and the targeted client, since publicity regarding an attack can make targeted websites more popular, reversing the attack’s intended effect. Read more about Deflect’s reports.

Corporate and non-profit DDoS mitigation services are not the same. While both can generally withstand the same attacks, there are distinctions with regard to privacy and longevity. Corporate social responsibility projects may offer greater infrastructure and depth of services. On the other hand, non-profit services are generally operated on the same principles as the websites they seek to protect. As such, they don’t reject frequently targeted clients, and provide more support for onboarding and offboarding.


Banner photo: from Deflect.ca