Government-targeted DDoS attacks surge by over 1,800% in 2021

Ruth C. | April 5, 2022

Nowadays, governments worldwide face the challenge of protecting their cyberspace in addition to their physical borders. Online presence creates an additional attack surface that can be used in coordinated attacks, such as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.

According to the data presented by the Atlas VPN team, the volume of DDoS attacks per customer aimed at the government sector soared by a whopping 1,881% in 2021 compared to 2020’s figures. Meanwhile, the actual attack events decreased by 70%, suggesting fewer but more severe DDoS attacks aimed at the sector. 

DDoS is a common cyberattack with a goal to make an online website or service unavailable by overwhelming it with a flood of internet traffic. Malicious actors use DDoS attacks to disrupt government communication and limit information in an effort to decapitate governments. DDoS attacks are also used by hacktivists as part of political protests. 

The figures are based on Radware's 2021-2022 Global Threat Analysis Report. The report reviews the year's most important cybersecurity events and provides detailed insights into the attack activity of 2021.

DDoS attacks, however, were not limited to the government sector last year. The volume of DDoS attacks per customer aimed at the retail industry skyrocketed by 6,288%. 

Next up was the healthcare sector. It experienced a 260% growth in DDoS attack volume per customer. 

The research and education sector occupies a fourth place on the list with a 62% rise in DDoS attack volume in 2021, followed by online commerce and gaming with 41%. Meanwhile, the technology sector saw a 36% increase in DDoS attack volume per customer last year. 

While the volume of DDoS attacks grew across most industries last year, finance and telecom sectors experienced a decrease. DDoS attack volume plummeted by 34% and 58%, respectively, across the aforementioned industries.

Overall, the average attack volume per customer rose by 26%.

Government sector more prepared to mitigate DDoS attack risks 

Despite rising DDoS attacks volume, the government sector handles cyberattacks more effectively than before. 

In 2021, the government sector mitigated more than ten times the volume of attacks compared to 2020. In 2020, the blocked volume of DDoS attacks aimed at the sector stood at 1.22%. Meanwhile, in 2021 the number rose by 12.08% to 13.3%, making the government the top third sector with the highest volume of blocked DDoS attacks in 2021. 

However, the retail industry had the largest spike in mitigated DDoS attack volume and the second biggest volume of blocked attacks last year. In 2021, the volume increased by 20.89% from 0.61% to 21.5%.

In addition to government and retail, the volume of blocked DDoS attacks aimed at the healthcare industry grew by 5.98%, from 6.12% in 2020 to 12.1% in 2021.

The rest of the top attacked industries experienced a decrease in the volume of blocked DDoS attacks last year compared to the year before. Telecom saw a 17.93% plunge from 23.4% in 2020 to 5.47% in 2021, finance had a 10.81% decline from 17% to 6.19%, meanwhile online commerce and gaming had a 6.4% fall from 28.7% to 22.3%. However, even with the drop, the sector experienced the highest volume of DDoS attacks out of all in 2021. 

Other industries with declining DDoS attack volume include technology with a 2.8% drop and research and education with a 0.63% decrease.

To learn more about DDoS attack trends in 2021, visit our other articles: 

A record 5.4 million DDoS attacks were reported in H1 2021

Number of DDoS attacks globally hit record heights in Q3 2021

65% of all DDoS attacks target US and UK

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