Cyber criminals have recently targeted several small technology startups with an aim to extort money. According to a New York Times report, startups like Meetup, Vimeo, Basecamp, Bit.ly, Shutterstock, and more, have already been hit by such attacks.
Attackers typically employ a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, which is used to make a machine or network resource unavailable to its intended users. Through DDoS, they first knock a victim offline using a flood of traffic, and then ask for ransom in exchange for protection from the attack.
The report highlights a similar attack in which Meetup, a New York-based Internet company that connects groups offline, was asked to pay $300 worth of Bitcoins. The company decided not to bow down, following which a DDoS attack was launched, disrupting the company's website for several days.
Although $300 may seem quite a small amount, the victims think these nominal amounts are bait and could lead to future extortion and demands. According to Arbor Networks, a Burlington, Massachusetts-based company that sells network security and network monitoring software, there has been an eightfold increase in the frequency of DDoS attacks from the previous year.
Although a surprising percentage of victims pay the ransom, the attacks have worked in favor of companies like Cloudflare and Akamai that specialize in protecting against DDoS attacks. Depending upon the service, these companies charge customers $20 to $2000 a month.
According to Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince, the company witnessed a 450 percent jump in revenue last year.