Cyber-attacks that bring down websites and online services have been getting bigger every year. But how will businesses cope in 2016? Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks work by overloading websites or other online services with traffic. They have the power to knock whole sites offline and are usually carried out by automated bots or programmes.
Darren Antsee, chief security technologist at software company Arbor Networks, believes the world is in an "arms race" between those carrying out DDoS attacks and those who try to defend against them His firm conducts an annual survey of internet service providers on the subject and the company also takes in data from its "Atlas" system - which monitors 300 providers every hour. Mr Antsee says this gives the firm an idea of what's happening across "about a third of the internet".
Mr Antsee concurs and points out that a variety of motivations could prompt attacks these days. The most common now, according to the Arbor Networks survey, is criminals flexing their muscles against online targets to demonstrate their capabilities.
Businesses occasionally dabble in attacking competitors, and there are also reports of individuals using DDoS for extortion - in which a ransom fee is demanded from the owners of a victim site. Finally, it's also sometimes the case that DDoS attacks will take place for "ideological" reasons - a website supporting a political viewpoint might be thrown offline by supporters of the opposing view, for example. In terms of protection, companies like Cloudflare offer to analyse web traffic for signs of malicious requests which can often weed out unwanted connections. Mr Antsee adds that "infrastructure access control lists" (ACLs) can be installed in routers and switches to detect suspicious patterns in traffic.