July 22, 2024

StormWall: DDoS Attacks in MENA up126% in Record-Breaking 2023

Last Updated on March 30, 2024 by Editor

StormWall, a DDoS security provider has released its annual report on the state of Distributed
Denial of Service attacks in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region for 2023. The
report highlights an alarming trend: there was a 126% year-over-year increase in DDoS attacks
in the region — a record-breaking year in the context of malicious traffic in the Middle East.

A tough year for MENA: attacks up 126% from 2022
The surge in DDoS activity in MENA in 2023 is unprecedented — more than a 2x increase in a
single year. This growth can be attributed to several factors: heightened political tensions —
particularly the Israel-Palestine conflict — which led to an increase in hacktivism; The
proliferation of stronger and more accessible botnets allowed hackers to launch more powerful
attacks; And the rapid digitization of retail in the region attracted for-profit criminals.

Interestingly, the threat landscape continued to evolve in 2023, StormWall report says, and most
targeted verticals shifted towards the second half of the year. While for-profit hackers generated
most of the regional DDoS traffic in H1 2023, focusing on e-commerce, fintech, transportation,
oil and gas, and manufacturing industries, after the Israel-Palestine conflict broke out in
October, more DDoS attacks were conducted by hacktivists, who targeted healthcare,
education, and government industries.
21% of DDoS attacks in MENA targeted Telecom providers
This shift is reflected in the most-attacked industries. The telecommunications sector remains
the most targeted vertical (21% share) of all DDoS attacks, followed closely by government
services (18% share), and then transportation (11% share). The Healthcare industry
experienced the highest growth in attacks at 174% year-over-year, followed by transportation at
Multivector attacks increased by 118% YoY
But according to StormWall’s experts, attacks didn’t just grow in volume — their sophistication
also increased in 2023. As such, multivector attacks saw a 118% YoY increase, constituting
67% of all DDoS incidents in MENA.
HTTP/HTTPS DDoS attacks constituted 84% of malicious traffic in MENA
Looking at the breakdown by protocol, the report shows that 84% of attacks in MENA utilized
the HTTP/HTTPS — an increase of 68% compared to 2022. This was followed by TCP/UDP
attacks at 11%, while DNS attacks accounted for 3% of the total. This trend is the result of
growing accessibility of botnets, StormWall report says: hackers deployed IoT botnets
numbering millions of devices and VM botnets that establish HTTP/2 connections; utilizing this newer protocol allows to launch volumetric attacks with botnets numbering fewer than 40,000
The UAE was the most targeted country in MENA
When it comes to most-attacked countries in MENA, The United Arab Emirates emerged in the
undesirable first place, facing 26% of all DDoS attacks in the region. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait,
Qatar, and Bahrain rounded out the top five, collectively accounting for 77% of DDoS traffic.
Notably, 7% of the region’s malicious traffic landed in Israel, and 4% in Palestine — these
shares are high for these countries, especially Palestine, and illustrate the impact of hacktivism
on the DDoS traffic in MENA.

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