08/05/2014 10:41 BST | Updated 07/07/2014 06:59 BST

Do Website Attack Kits Heighten the Threat From Cyber Criminals?

More and more, I find myself talking about cyber attacks, which is hardly surprising given F5's field of expertise. More importantly, however, it's a reflection of the growing nature of the threat, and the impact a successful cyber-attack could have on our customers' businesses.

Over the years, we have seen how hacking and other cyber-attacks have matured from being something carried out by opportunists simply because they know how, to highly organised and very well-funded criminal operations that target some of the biggest companies in the world.

This increase can be also attributed to the relative ease by which a cyber-attack can be launched. By carefully searching online, anyone can find the tools needed to launch a DDoS attack, and, unlike just 18 or so months ago, people don't require any specialist skills.

There are also cybercriminals who offer their services for just a few dollars to launch a DDoS attack on whoever their client likes. Maybe the time has come to talk about DDoS-as-a-Service - although DDoSaaS is a bit of a mouthful!

The point I'm making is that it is easier than ever for someone to launch a cyber attack against your business, whether it is a foreign government, a competitor, a disgruntled employee (or ex-employee) or just someone who disagrees with what your business does.

That was certainly reason enough for the likes of Anonymous and LulzSec to launch their cyber attacks on a wide variety of businesses. In fact, Anonymous is a good example of the changing face of web attacks; the group relied heavily on DDoS attacks because they were easy to perpetrate. Just how easy you ask? Well, XerXes is an application layer DOS tool and YouTube is littered with Videos on how to use it to take down a website, Video Here.

What I have described so far, however, should not affect the basics - businesses still have to protect and defend their infrastructures from attacks.

Cyber attacks can cause damage running into millions of pounds; in fact, Forrester Research claims losses can be as much $27 million for a 24-hour period of downtime. They can also permanently ruin a company's reputation... who'd want to do business with a company that can't keep your personal information safe?

Cyber attacks can come in many different forms. Therefore, it's important to first establish whether your business is in fact under attack and, if so, to determine what sort of attack you are facing. It could be a DDoS attack, which are notoriously difficult to defend against), it could be someone trying to access certain parts of your network or it could be malware that has been planted within your network to scour and steal sensitive information.

Whatever the attack, and whatever the attack vector, it is vital to keep your workers working. This means keeping key applications running and, if needed, adding remote and in-house workers to a "safe list" applications, so employees can continue to access the business tools and data they need.

To give businesses piece of mind despite the heightened risk of attack, it's important to deploy have a security platform that has the intelligence to identify when an attack is underway and then to take the necessary steps to block the offending traffic, while keeping business traffic flowing.