DDoS attacks fell by almost a third (31%) in Q4 of 2020 compared to Q3, according to new figures from Kaspersky.
The researchers believe this reduction is linked to the surge in cryptocurrency costs, with cyber-criminals increasingly turning their attention to cryptomining. Kaspersky statistics showed that while the number of cryptominers declined throughout 2019 and at the start of 2020, from August 2020, this form of malware has gone up slightly.
With cryptomining becoming more lucrative, it is likely many cyber-criminals re-profiled some botnets to enable C&C servers, typically used in DDoS attacks, to repurpose infected devices and use their computing power to mine cryptocurrencies instead.
Last month, Avira revealed it had detected a 53% rise in crypto-mining software in the final quarter of 2020, linked to the soar in Bitcoin value.
Despite this quarter-on-quarter decline in Q4 of 2020, DDoS attacks were still 10% higher compared to the same period in 2019. This is as a result of the ongoing surge in DDoS attacks in 2020, with cyber-villains exploiting the growing number of people and time spent online since the introduction of COVID-19 social distancing restrictions. Kaspersky noted that numerous educational institutions were targeted with this tactic in the final three months of 2020, including several schools in Massachusetts and Laurentian University in Canada.
Alexey Kiselev, business development manager on the Kaspersky DDoS Protection team commented: “The DDoS attack market is currently affected by two opposite trends. On the one hand, people still highly rely on stable work of online resources, which can make DDoS attacks a common choice for malefactors. However, with a spike in cryptocurrency prices, it may be more profitable for them to infect some devices with miners. As a result, we see that the total number of DDoS attacks in Q4 remained quite stable. And we can predict that this trend will continue in 2021.”