Last month in DDoS attacks – Protest and Activism

On the evening of July 26th, New York Magazine published what some may believe to be a controversial article regarding the alleged sexual assault victims of Bill Cosby. This particular piece included interviews from 35 women who have stepped forward with their allegations against the actor.  A few hours after the article was published online, DDoS attacks rendered the publication’s website unavailable for about a 12 hour time period. 

New York Magazine resorted to social media outlets to share the story in wake of their website inaccessibility.  The magazine is guessing to have lost about 500,000 unique visitors to their site due to the take down.

For those familiar with the world of digital media this is a major blow to traffic, clicks and ultimately online advertiser revenues. 

Also this last month we’ve seen reports that has also fallen victim to a DDoS attack, stemming from controversial videos published by anti-abortion hactivists. Today, visitors to are met with a static page with a message that reads: “our site is not available to due a hack by extremists.” Visitors looking for additional information and resources are directed to visit other Planned Parenthood web properties, including their official facebook page as an alternative. 

DDoS attacks are in no way a ‘new’ cyber threat that organizations should be wary of. In fact DDoS has been utilized as an attack tool for a decade or more for a wide range of motivations.  Ramifications of the damage are just as wide ranging as the attacks themselves: 

Revenue loss – Downtime affects the bottom line, directly and indirectly, and in principle, all types of damage could be rolled into this one. Effects vary widely across industries, and among firms within industries. 

Operational/Productivity loss – Network problems impact IT staff directly, and may impact some or all of the non-IT divisions. During full outages, workforce productivity comes to a halt. Troubleshooting, mitigation, and disaster recovery procedures are notoriously resource-intensive.  

Reputation damage – Your brand suffers if customers and business partners cannot access your site, become casualties of a breach, or simply experience diminished function or performance when interacting with your digital properties or online tools and assets.