Microsoft reveals the epic DDoS attack that broke hack records

Microsoft has just shared a report about a variety of Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks that took place during the last two quarters of 2021. It all sounds rather grim: There has been a marked increase in the number of attacks during 2021, but fortunately, there are protective measures in place that help minimize the impact. In fact, Microsoft's Azure DDoS protection technology was able to intercept one of the largest DDoS attacks in history.

A DDoS attack is an organized attempt to disrupt the regular traffic and speed of a service, a network, or a server. It is carried out by multiple machines, often infected with malware and controlled remotely by attackers. The machines continuously send requests to the target, overwhelming it with unexpected traffic. This often results in the server crashing or slowing down considerably.

The blog post shared by Microsoft is lengthy and talks about various points related to the latest DDoS attack trends. Aside from the fact that these attacks are largely intercepted, there is no good news to be found in Microsoft's report. 2021 has been a tough year in terms of cyber security, and the last two quarters were particularly bad. The attacks were much more frequent and increased in volume and complexity.

Azure mitigated massive DDoS attacks

One of the key points of Microsoft's report talks about one of the largest DDoS attacks ever to be mitigated. The attack took place in November 2021 and targeted an anonymous Azure customer located in Asia. It lasted fifteen minutes, and during that time, a vast number of exploited machines were simultaneously sending packets to the targeted Azure customer.

This unprecedented attack had a throughput of 3.47Tbps with a packet rate of 340 million packets per second. It involved over 10,000 sources, with the packets being sent from all over the world, including China, Thailand, India, Indonesia, Russia, Iran, South Korea, and Taiwan. Microsoft believes that this was the largest attack ever reported. This wasn't the only massive DDoS attempt intercepted by Azure in 2021.

In December, Microsoft has also mitigated two more attacks that targeted Asian customers. One of the attacks had a 3.25Tbps throughput and lasted over 15 minutes, while the other capped out at 2.55Tbps and just over five minutes.

The gaming industry was hit the hardest by DDoS attacks


Microsoft notes that in 2021, the gaming industry suffered the worst of the DDoS attacks intercepted by Azure. Even with protective measures, many gamers experienced denial of service, including to games such as Titanfall, Dead by Daylight, and a variety of Blizzard games. The attacks also stretched towards the voice over IP (VoIP) industry, causing various outages.

Typically, the worst months for DDoS attacks are near the end of the year. Cloudflare also experienced a similar uptick in DDoS attempts around that time. However, for Microsoft, the worst month was August of 2021, when the number of attacks in one day reached a new high of 4,296. This is a massive increase over Microsoft's average of 1,955 attacks per day.

The second half of 2021 saw the worst of the DDoS attacks of the year. Microsoft saw an up to 43% increase compared to the first two quarters of the year. Added up, the company mitigated 359,713 attacks during the third and fourth quarters of 2021. Microsoft reports that most of the attacks were targeting the United States (54 percent.) India was also badly hit and saw a massive increase, from just 2% in the first half of 2021 to 23% in the second half. The other destinations include East Asia, Europe, South East Asia, and other parts of the world. 

Microsoft claims that the increase in DDoS attacks stems from the fact that they are easily accessible through for-hire services. Microsoft also suggests that the vast majority of attacks aimed at systems they work with are thwarted through the Azure DDoS Protection service.