Since the unjust killing of George Floyd on May 25, protests have erupted across the United States inviting widespread violence. While this has been regularly reported in the media, a more neglected front is at play as well.
Brought to light recently by Cloudflare who has been providing protection to at-risk groups under its Project Galileo initiative; it has been discovered that there has been a staggering increase in cyberattacks in the past couple of weeks. Not surprisingly, this includes attacks on groups fighting to represent the “Black Lives Matter” movement shifting the war for rights to the digital world.
Coming to the analysis of these attacks, according to the chart released below in the article, a comparison is seen between a week from April and May on how many malicious HTTP requests were received by Cloudflare. These requests usually aim to overload the website with excessive traffic in a DDoS attack or “break into them” through other ways.
According to the data shown, over 116 billion HTTP requests were observed in the month of April alone which as Cloudflare put it, translates to about “670,000 blocked requests per second” in a 2 day period.
In comparison, Google gets about 63,000 search requests per second which is 10x less showing the massive volume of attacks that websites may receive in such a short time period.
Moving forward, a look at May increases the numbers by 17% resulting in now 19 billion HTTP requests with “an extra 110,000 blocked requests per second”.
These attacks can be divided into different categories in terms of “who” they target:
1- Advocacy groups who fight against different injustices such as Racism – attacks targeting them increased by 1120x marking the most affected sector in this cyberwar. This shows us that white supremacists and others are actively targeting the “Black Lives Matter” movement serving as a counterattack to hacktivist organizations such as Anonymous.
2- Government websites of different departments such as the Police & Fire Brigades – a 1.8x increase.
3- Military websites – a 3.8x increase.
As seen from the chart above till May 25, attacks targeting them were at a minimal hovering around a few million but then slowly they increased to much larger numbers. Detailing the example of one attacker, In their blog post Cloudflare wrote:
One particular attacker, likely using a hacked server in France, was especially persistent and kept up an attack continuously hitting an advocacy group continuously for over a day. We blocked those malicious HTTP requests and kept the site online.
Graphic shared by Cloudflare shows a surge in cyberattacks after the murder of George Floyd:
To conclude, it is a fact that cyber warfare both in the domestic and international theatre happens to an important front to watch out for in the 21st century.
If you are an organization or host a website that may be at risk, it would be wise to get DDoS and other security protection from a dedicated provider. This is to say because seeing the sheer numbers mentioned above, it can become impossible to defends your technical infrastructure without any expert help.