The Department of Homeland Security is funding new research to counter a type of cyberattack that brought down Twitter, PayPal and other websites last year.
The attacks, known as distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, work when hackers send a massive amount of web traffic to a site, rendering it unable to function. DHS’s Science and Technology Directorate announced Thursday that its cybersecurity division is funding several research projects to counter these attacks.
In October, hackers blocked users from accessing popular websites including Twitter, PayPal, and Spotify by launching DDoS attacks targeting Dyn, an internet performance management company used by those websites. The attacks affected millions of users.
According to DHS, there has been an “exponential increase” in the intensity and frequency of these attacks over the past six months as a result of hackers using malware to turn computer systems into “bots” and creating “botnet armies” to wage DDoS attacks.
“The goal of the DDoS project is to build effective and easily implemented network defenses and promote adoption of best practices by the private sector to bring about an end to the scourge of DDoS attacks,” said Daniel Massey, who is managing the cybersecurity research project.
“Our performers are developing exciting new defense approaches that will help organizations defend against very large-scale DDoS attacks,” Massey said.
The DHS project aims to slow the growth of attacks and improve defense networks against them. It will also address other denial of service attacks including those aimed at emergency management systems, like 911.