According to data presented by Atlas VPN, cybercriminals launched nearly 5.4 million distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks in the first half of 2021 — an 11% increase compared to the first half of 2020. 

More than half (2.8 million) of the attacks utilized compromised computer systems, or botnet networks, as sources of attack traffic.

A DDoS attack is common, with a goal to make an online service unavailable by overwhelming it with a flood of internet traffic. To perform a DDoS attack, hackers infect multiple devices, turn them into bots, and direct them to a targeted IP address. The targeted website or service can no longer accept valid requests from actual visitors as it gets flooded with heavy traffic coming from fraudulent requests.

The data is based on the NetScout Threat Intelligence report Issue 7. The report looks at DDoS attack trends in the first half of 2021.

January saw the most significant number of DDoS attacks — 972,000. In February, attacks dropped by a little over 5% to 921,000 and rose again by 5% in March to 968,000.

In April, DDoS attacks started steadily declining. They plummeted by 9% to 882,000 DDoS attacks and decreased once again in May by 5% to 842,000 attacks.  Finally, in June, the DDoS attacks reached the lowest point in 2021, dropping 10% to 759,000.

Around 41,000 or close to 1% of DDoS attacks in the first half of 2021 were aimed at commercial VPNs. Attacks on commercial VPNs are especially hazardous since they can result in collateral damage affecting a wide range of entities.

DDoS attacks were highly prevalent across the world in the first half of the year. However, some regions were more affected than others. 

Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) got the biggest share of DDoS attacks. A little over 2 million attacks were aimed at organizations in the regions, with an average duration of 47 minutes per attack (a global average is 50 minutes).  

The world’s biggest DDoS attack of 2021 was directed at an internet service provider in Germany. In June 2021, cybercriminals launched a DDoS attack with a bandwidth of 1.5 terabytes per second.

Next up is North America, followed by Asia-Pacific. The regions received nearly 1.3 million and 1.2 million DDoS attacks, respectively. The average duration of a DDoS attack aimed at North America was only 40 minutes, the shortest out of all the regions, while DDoS attacks targeting Asia-Pacific averaged 62 minutes in duration. 

Lastly, Latin America was targeted the least out of all the regions across the world. It experienced 555,039 DDoS attacks. However, DDoS attacks aimed at Latin America lasted the longest — an average of 63 minutes.