The Internet is getting faster -- and faster. And despite a slight decrease in DDoS attacks in the third quarter of 2013, there were more DDoS attacks reported through Q3 2013 than in all of 2012. So says Akamai Technologies' latest State of the Internet Report, which is based on its Intelligent Platform. The report offers stats like network connectivity, connection speeds, attack traffic, and broadband adoption and availability.
Simply stated, the global average connection speed continued its upward trend in the third quarter of 2013, climbing 10 percent over the previous quarter to 3.6 Mbps. Average connection speeds also saw a 29 percent year-over-year increase, with all of the top 10 countries and regions climbing 27 percent or more. The global average peak connection speed grew 13 percent over the third quarter of 2012. Global broadband adoption improved 5.8 percent over the quarter to reach 53 percent.
"In the third quarter of 2013, we observed that long-term growth in average and average peak connection speeds remained strong, as did growth in global broadband and high broadband adoption rates,” said David Belson, the report's editor. “We believe these trends point to continued improvement in the quality and performance of Internet connectivity in countries around the world.”
Attack Traffic Rising
Akamai observed attack traffic originating from 185 unique countries and regions during the third quarter of 2013. That’s up 10 over the previous quarter. China, which originated 35 percent of observed attacks, returned to the top spot this quarter after having been unseated by Indonesia in the second quarter.
Indonesia, meanwhile, dropped back to second place after originating 20 percent of observed attacks -- slightly more than half of the volume seen in the second quarter. The United States remained in third place as it originated 11 percent of observed attacks during the third quarter, up from 6.9 percent in the previous quarter.
After dropping to third place in the second quarter, Port 445 (Microsoft-DS) returned to its spot as the most targeted port in the third quarter, drawing 23 percent of observed attacks. Port 80 (WWW [HTTP]) and Port 443 (SSL [HTTPS]) dropped to second and third place at 14 and 13 percent, respectively. Port 445 was the most targeted port in eight of the top 10 countries/regions, the only exceptions being China and Indonesia. Port 1433 (Microsoft SQL Server) was the top target for China and Port 443 was the most targeted from Indonesia.
DDoS Attacks Up in 2013
In addition to observations on attack traffic, the Akamai report includes insight into distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks based on reports from its customers. For the first time since the fourth quarter of 2012, when Akamai began reporting on DDoS attacks, fewer attacks were reported than the previous quarter, with 281 observed in the third quarter of 2013 compared to 318 during the second quarter (down 11 percent). Overall, Akamai saw more attacks through the third quarter of 2013 (807) than it did in all of 2012 (768).
The Enterprise sector continued to be the leading target of DDoS attacks with 127 reported in the third quarter; Commerce was next with 80, followed by Media & Entertainment (42), Public Sector (18) and High Tech (14).
Akamai has also started to examine the likelihood that attack targets may be subject to follow-up attacks. Out of the 281 third-quarter attacks, 169 were focused on unique targets. During the quarter, 27 customers were attacked for a second time; five reported three attacks; and seven companies were attacked more than three times. Initial analysis of the data indicates that if a company is the target of a DDoS attack, there is a 25 percent chance that it could be attacked again within three months.
"Although the number of DDoS attacks reported by Akamai customers in the third quarter declined from the previous quarter, we believe that 2013 will ultimately be a significantly more active year for DDoS attacks than 2012," Belson said. "As of the end of the third quarter, customers had already reported more DDoS attacks than they did in all of 2012."
Wrapping Up The Report
Other revelations from the report include an 11 percent year-over-year increase in global Internet connectivity and a glimpse into IPv6 adoption. Akamai reports that European countries have taken a clear lead, with seven of the top 10 countries adopting the IPv6 standard.
Average connection speeds on surveyed mobile network operators during the third quarter of 2013 ranged from a high of 9.5 Mbps to a low of 0.6 Mbps, while average peak connection speeds ranged from 49.8 Mbps to 2.4 Mbps. Finally, Android Webkit-based browsers accounted for nearly 38 percent of all requests and Apple Mobile Safari slightly less than 24 percent. When accounting for mobile device usage across all networks (not just cellular), Apple Mobile Safari comprised just over 47 percent of requests and Android Webkit made up 33 percent of requests.
We caught up with Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, for his take on the report. He told us the Internet was initially designed to ensure communications in the event of a nuclear attack or other disaster. More than 25 years later, he noted, it has turned into a global infrastructure capable of supporting all kinds of communications and commercial traffic.
“The growth in traffic, the general forward motion and improvement in overall performance that was noted in the Akamai report is fascinating,” he said. “People running these network and foreign countries are working very hard to improve bandwidth and connectivity and user experience.”