Stopping the ripple effect of web application attacks against organisations

In today's digital age, our lives are deeply intertwined with technology. We’ve seen remarkable advancements, but also vulnerabilities emerge. Technology has connected us in unprecedented ways, turning businesses, governments, and individuals into virtual inhabitants. Yet, as our digital world grows more complex, so does the threat landscape.


According to the 2023 We Are Social and Meltwater report, the majority of Thailand’s population are online – with 61.21 million Internet users, which is  85.3% of the total population. Furthermore, 95.3% of the population access the Internet via their mobile phone.


The high internet penetration rate in Thailand which leads to the exponential growth of digital connectivity has made CDN to become the backbone of seamless online experiences by delivering content to Thai users with minimal delay. However, the growth of the Internet has also attracted cybercriminals probing for loopholes and vulnerabilities on web applications and devices to exploit. This digital battleground carries high stakes, with the potential to cripple industries, compromise data, and erode the trust underpinning our interconnected society. Such vulnerabilities can have a hidden ripple effect on an organisation's overall security posture, as evidenced by staggering cyber-attack statistics from recent years.


Rising Web Application Attacks: A Window for Malicious Activity


According to CDNetworks' 2022 State of Web Application and API Protection report, 45.127 billion web application attacks were detected and blocked by CDNetworks security platform throughout the year, an increase of 96.35% compared to 2021. This surge highlights the evolving tactics of cybercriminals, who are honing in on vulnerabilities in digital infrastructures.


The scale of cyberattacks goes beyond web applications.


Taking DDoS as an example, in 2022, CDNetworks security platform encountered the number of network-layer DDoS attacks peaked at 2.09 Tbps, with eight Tbps-level or higher attacks throughout the year. And the peak of application-layer DDoS attacks reached 34 M QPS. At the same time, the frequency of attacks also increased significantly. CDNetworks recorded an average of 439,200 DDoS attack incidents per day on our platform, marking a staggering 103.8% year-on-year increase.


A DDoS attack is like an overwhelming digital traffic jam. Cybercriminals use it to flood a website, service, or network with so much internet traffic that it becomes clogged and unusable. When a website or service goes down due to a DDoS attack, it causes interruptions for users, and in some cases, it can even cost a business a lot of money. Cybercriminals might use DDoS attacks to make a point, seek revenge, or simply create mayhem online.


Simultaneously, Bot attacks have also become a pervasive and concerning issue in recent years, as evidenced by the alarming statistics provided by CDNetworks' security platform. In 2022 alone, a staggering total of 163,185 million bot attacks were monitored, marking a significant increase of 1.93 times compared to the previous year and a staggering 4.55 times compared to 2020. These figures highlight the growing sophistication and prevalence of bot attacks in the digital landscape.


Furthermore, the statistics reveal an unsettling fact that only around 60% of the traffic to web applications and APIs were initiated by human visits. This means that a significant portion of the web traffic is generated by bots, which can carry out various malicious activities such as disrupting websites, stealing data, conducting fraudulent transactions, and more. This high volume of bot traffic poses challenges to organisations, as it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish between genuine human interactions and malicious bot activities.


API Assets Have Become the Top Target for Malicious Attacks


As if that weren't enough, the nefarious focus of attackers expanded to encompass APIs, resulting in a substantial growth in API attacks, which exceeded 50% for the first time in 2022, reaching 58.4%.


APIs, or Application Programming Interfaces, provide essential functionality and enable seamless integration between systems, making them a prime target for cyberattacks. APIs are used across various industries and sectors, including finance, e-commerce, healthcare, and more. This ubiquity makes them a valuable target for cybercriminals who can potentially exploit vulnerabilities in one API to gain access to sensitive data and valuable resources, such as customer information, financial transactions, or intellectual property.


Unmasking the Domino Effect


Exploiting vulnerabilities in web applications and APIs may seem like isolated incidents, but they can have a cascading effect on an organisation's digital framework. Attackers can use compromised web applications and APIs as entry points to access sensitive data, compromise user accounts, or launch DDoS attacks.


This cascading effect serves as a stark reminder of the interconnected nature of security elements. It underscores the critical importance of adopting a proactive defence strategy, one that recognises the ripple effect of these vulnerabilities and takes decisive measures to safeguard an organisation’s digital assets.


The Path to Resilient Security


In an ever-expanding digital landscape, organisations must adopt a holistic approach to security. This involves understanding the interconnected nature of security components and recognising the potential ripple effect of attacks on web applications and APIs. .


When selecting a web application and API protection solution, some considerations include:

  • Prioritising CDN and cloud computing platforms with high security levels of their own CDN and cloud computing platforms that serve as the critical Internet infrastructures provide high levels of security.
  • Seek out tools that offer complete closed-loop API asset and risk inventory, integrated management, monitoring, and response capabilities.
  • Ensure the technology integrates robust threat intelligence with proactive AI functionalities
  • Opt for platforms with a proven track record of consistent expert security operations and security-managed services.


Organisations need to implement robust security measures to build an all-encompassing defence strategy to cover all attack surfaces. By doing so, they can respond effectively to diverse threats, improve their security posture and ensure that a breach within one critical component doesn't trigger a ripple effect that compromises the entire business.