Network forecast

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Digital transformation will continue to have an effect on the demands and requirements of IP networks according to the Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) Complete Forecast. The internet firm projects an increase in Internet users, from 3.3 to 4.6 billion or 58 percent of the global population. For the first time in the 12 years of the forecast, M2M connections that support Internet of Things (IoT) applications are calculated to be more than half of the total 27.1 billion devices.

Video will continue to dominate IP traffic and overall internet traffic growth—representing 80 percent of all Internet traffic by 2021, up from 67 percent in 2016. Globally, there will be nearly 1.9 billion internet video users. Total public W-Fi hotspots (including homespots) will grow six-fold; from 94 million in 2016 to 541.6 million in 2021.

Average DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack size is increasing steadily and approaching 1.2 Gpbs; which is enough to take most organizations completely offline, the IT firm warns. DDoS incidents can paralyze networks by flooding servers and network devices with traffic from multiple IP sources. The peak attack size increased 60 percent year over year and represents up to 18 percent of a country’s total internet traffic while they are occurring. Average DDoS attack size increased to 22 percent, which is relatively the same rate as Internet traffic at 29 percent year over year. And the number of DDoS attacks grew 172 percent in 2016 and will increase 2.5-fold to 3.1 million by 2021 globally.

Yvette Kanouff, SVP and GM of Service Provider Business, Cisco, said: “As global digital transformation continues to impact billions of consumers and businesses, the network and security will be essential to support the future of the internet.”

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Rob Norris, VP Head of Enterprise and Cyber Security EMEIA at Fujitsu, said: “The news that the size of DDoS attacks is increasing to the point where they can completely send an organisation offline is testament to the fact that the threat landscape is growing exponentially, and is more of a risk than ever before for businesses. From a UK perspective, the UK is an attractive target for DDoS for two main reasons. Firstly because the UK is one of the world’s largest and most advanced economies. It is one of the leading adopters of ‘digital enterprise models’, which as a result means it exposes a large surface of ‘UK PLC’ to the web to attack. The second factor is down to the mix of the UK economy and the service industries it focuses on such as financial services, IP rich manufacturers, dynamic media and communications sector, broad utility and transport industries. The key to all of these sectors is ‘availability’, and therefore the UK is an obvious target. A lot of business for ecommerce is done over the web, especially in retail and gambling, which means these industries are particularly at risk. As well as this, the UK’s time-zone overlaps with many advanced economies, making the UK a ‘logistically’ juicy target due to our position as a global ‘hub’.

“The fact that DDoS attacks are only going to increase even more, all businesses, both in and outside of the UK need to be vigilant in the face of it. To protect from DDoS attacks, organisations must understand the threat, risk and impact of DDoS attacks specific to their business and consider mitigation strategies based on good business continuity planning. Organisations should also work with leading suppliers who can help mitigate availability attacks with technology solutions – cloud based services are an obvious and often effective solution worth considering.

“From an industry perspective, industry peers need to share knowledge where appropriate, and keep government agencies informed; collaboration is key. It is a mixture of these solutions that will help deter hackers from launching a DDoS attack.”

And Lee Nolan, Solutions Director for Insight UK, said: “This new research from Cisco confirms that we’re moving from the Internet of Things, to an Internet of Everything. With IoT connections set to double by 2021, we’re witnessing a technology revolution that is set to rival the birth of the PC, even the mobile. It encompasses everything, and has huge implications for every sector. From manufacturing to retail, and especially healthcare as the research shows – where it can be used to track patients and equipment – IoT is penetrating every aspect of our lives.

“There’s a real opportunity for enterprises to reap the rewards. Harnessing the power of IoT enables businesses to create new revenue streams, give a better customer experiences and establish new efficiencies. However, as we see IoT connections rocket upwards, the challenge for the next five years will be to find ways to harness and analyse the data all these devices produce. That’s the difficult part.

“The focus should be on investing in infrastructure that can cope with vast pools of data, whether it be cloud or network capacity, and establishing recruitment strategies that prioritise the skills required to prosper in our digital tomorrow. Businesses that start planning their strategy for a fourth industrial revolution now, stand to reap the benefits of the untapped data goldmine.”

Darren Anstee, CTO at Arbor Networks, said: “The rapid increase in the number of IoT devices deployed around the world, and their growing use within healthcare, transport and utility infrastructure, means that we need to ensure that security becomes part of the buying decision when selecting devices. Attackers continue to leverage the capability out there today, so we need to prevent them from exploiting the even larger numbers of devices that will be there tomorrow.

“With the continuing growth in video traffic, and the associated bandwidth requirements, it is also becoming more and more important for ISPs to have good in-depth visibility of the OTT services running on their networks, so that resources can be optimised and customer experience managed.

“The stakes have also changed for DDoS. As more businesses have adopted cloud and mobility, they have become dependent on the connected world. We use Internet services for everything – from paying for goods and services, to communicating with our partners, customers and suppliers. The weaponisation of DDoS botnets, some leveraging IoT devices, has led to a step change in the scale, frequency and complexity of the attacks out there today. Arbor data shows that almost 1:2 enterprises were targeted last year, with higher proportions of government and financial organisations seeing attacks. Putting the right defences in place is therefore imperative.”