Security Strategies

Bargain Botnets Fuel Level 3's Expansion

Like every other aspect of networking, cyber-attacks are a global business, affected by the laws of supply and demand. And apparently, the cost of doing bad on the Internet is going down.

Level 3 Communications Inc. (NYSE: LVLT), which this week announced a new scrubbing center for distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks in Latin America, is seeing an increase in both C2 -- or command and control -- and botnet-based attacks, says Chris Richter, senior vice president of global security services.

In an interview with Light Reading, Richter says there is "a growing trend in the number of C2s and botnets popping up everywhere" because of the ease with which the criminal element involved in cyber-attacks is able to create botnets and rent them out. The growing sophistication of attacks and the way attackers are able to do business with each other on the dark web is fueling the rise in attacks.

"The price point for renting botnets is going down," he notes. "So attackers have a lot of tools at their disposal."

Level 3 uses its ability to view Internet traffic around the world to map the location of source attacks so that C2s and botnets can be identified and mitigated. The company noticed a rise in traffic in South America -- generated there and targeting companies based there -- so it set up a new DDoS scrubbing center in Sao Paola, Brazil. At present, 12% of DDoS attacks target Latin America.

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Without that center, traffic was being hauled to one of its other eight scrubbing centers located in Frankfurt, Amsterdam, London, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C. With the rise in traffic volume from South America, that became inefficient, Richter says.

Level 3's DDoS Mitigation Service, part of its managed security service portfolio, pulls customer traffic from any carrier's network into its distributed network of scrubbing centers to be cleaned before legitimate traffic is forwarded through a private network or the public Internet to the customer. The carrier has 4.5 terabits per second of ingest capacity, and that capacity plus the ability to move traffic quickly to and from the customer enables its solution to be low latency.

Level 3 will open a tenth DDoS scrubbing center in Asia later this year, Richter says.

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

thebulk 2/29/2016 | 4:50:59 AM
Bad news is good for business. It makes sense that the cost of botnets would go down over time, just like anything. But it seems that for Level3 dirty deeds on the interwebs are good business. 
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