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Surge in online traffic increases risk to businesses
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Surge in online traffic increases risk to businesses

Imperva Research Labs has been monitoring the data across our thousands of customers since the outbreak of COVID-19. In reviewing anonymized data from our CyberThreat Index, we see new risks and several initial security implications from this pandemic for our customers and global businesses. We will share an ongoing stream of updates as the data identifies trends, and we will share our insights and technical expertise to help our customers adapt in these challenging times.

Here are four trends we are seeing right now:

  • With many people working from home, IT security teams are struggling to manage this new reality and traffic patterns show volatility.
  • Increased online traffic means higher infrastructure costs.
  • It’s important to distinguish between a legitimate increase in traffic and an attack such as a DNS Amplification DDoS attack to avoid false positives.
  • Attackers will exploit a distracted security team by launching more attacks.

Volatility in traffic patterns give bad actors new opportunity

As the coronavirus crisis continues to unfold, social behavior is adapting to the new reality. Normal life as we know it has been put on hold and to contain the spread of the virus people around the world are staying home. As the reality of this restricted way of living begins to set in, digital communication has become a lifeline for individuals who are relying on the internet to stay informed, but also to enable them to work, shop and continue their education during this uncertain time. Millions of employees are logging into corporate networks from home, which not only places enormous pressure on residential broadband providers but also expands the attack surface for cyber criminals.

At Imperva, we protect the traffic of thousands of customers across many different industries. This gives us a unique perspective on how the crisis is impacting each of them right now. Our threat research shows the volatility of data traffic handled by Imperva for various industries.

Industry Change in total traffic
News +64%
Food & Beverages +34%
Retail +28%
Gaming +28%
Law & Government +17%
Education +15%
Sports -46%
Adult -42%
Travel -41%
Automotive -35%
Financial Services -7%
Gambling -3%
Healthcare -3%

*Weekly average based on data collected January 19, 2020 – March 22, 2020.

Harder hit industries have larger risk surface

Take the retail industry. This sector is experiencing unprecedented demand for its products and services with buying behaviors previously only witnessed during key retail events such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, and other traditional holidays. With traffic up 28%, we know customers have shifted their buying habits to online shopping driving an unprecedented surge in traffic to their sites. As a result, businesses risk incurring additional costs by exceeding their normal bandwidth (BW) usage very quickly.

At Imperva we want to help you better-manage your infrastructure costs during the COVID-19 crisis while ensuring your business is still fully protected.

What you can do to avoid unnecessary costs and protect your business

There are things you can do today to make your business more resilient during this unprecedented time.

A surge in traffic can increase IT costs, especially your BW and compute consumption, as they are often optimized for different ranges. Consider using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) that can reduce costs and serve most, if not all, of your static resources to reduce BW and computation costs. Cloud WAF (which also includes CDN) can handle most of the traffic and helps minimize the costs associated with extra compute and BW.

If you are in the online retail business that is booming with high demand, don’t lose sight of what can become an exponential curve of expenses (like the Coronavirus outbreak pattern) and unpredictable operational costs. Now is the time to implement the necessary measures to keep your BW and compute costs down.

Protect your critical assets wherever they reside

While CDN is a great tool for helping reduce your BW costs, it is essential for protecting your web application against known and unknown attacks. Imperva Research Labs shows a close correlation between the spread of COVID-19 and a significant shift in digital traffic. Cybercriminals will be watching and targeting those industries with the highest traffic volumes.

Ensure you have robust WAF and DDoS protection in place to remain resilient and stop attackers from bringing your business down at this critical time.

To join in discussions on this and many other topics, visit the Imperva Community.

Stay healthy and safe!