Akamai released data Wednesday detailing a plethora of attacks against its clients as well as the increase in broadband speeds seen around the world. Its quarterly State of the Internet report for the fourth quarter of 2013 is chock-full of data about broadband speeds, IPv6 deployment and new types of website attacks.
According to the report, the fourth quarter of 2013 saw a rise in the number of denial of service attacks. Akamai also drew attention to an attack seen in early January. It gave a detailed explanation of a type of attack where hackers used vulnerability scanners that are normally used by site owners to scan for problems in their sites, to probe for weaknesses in websites ahead of a suspected attack. Akamai described it like this:
Akamai observed these scanners attacking financial sites looking for Remote File Inclusion (RFI) vulnerabilities with the specific string www.google.com/humans.txt within the requested URL. An RFI vulnerability is created when a site accepts a URL from another domain and loads its contents within the site. This can happen when a site owner wants content from one site to be displayed on its own site, but fails to validate which URL is allowed to load. If a malicious URL can be loaded into a site, an attacker can trick a user into believing they are using a valid and trusted site. The site visitor may then inadvertently give sensitive and personal information to the attacker.
For the most part these attacks came from inside the U.S., hit one website and if they didn’t find a weakness, moved on.
IPv6 and the need for speed
The report also gave an update on IPv6 adoption (it’s getting better, but is still not the majority of traffic on any network except Google’s Fiber network). But as usual I paid close attention to the broadband speed data. Overall the global average connection speed reached 3.8 Mbps in the fourth quarter with 5.5 percent quarterly growth and 27 percent growth for the year. This is good news.
The U.S. ranked tenth globally this time around with average connection speeds hitting 10 Mbps, a 25 percent improvement from the year before. Most notably, the U.S. also saw its fastest broadband get faster, with the average peak broadband speeds hitting 43.7 Mbps.
Mobile demand is still growing
Finally, on the mobile side speeds are improving and we’re seeing a lot more traffic. Based on traffic data collected by Ericsson, the volume of mobile data traffic increased by 70 percent from the fourth quarter of 2012 to the fourth quarter of 2013, and grew approximately 15 percent between the third and fourth quarters of 2013.
The U.S. was home to a wireless carrier that recorded the second highest average mobile broadband speeds globally at 8.5 Mbps, but it was the speed data from other parts of the world that were most notable. A wireless provider in Hong Kong and one in Australia both reported average peak connection speeds greater than 100 Mbps. Akamai notes that these speeds indicate that providers are starting to roll out “LTE Advanced” technology, which can enable peak data rates of up to 300 Mbps, and later confirmed that these carriers were “heading down the path” to those networks.
Overall, Akamai is seeing more people on the internet with faster speeds. And in the U.S. its data is showing that broadband is getting better, even in the areas where it’s relatively slow today.