A quarter of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks that occur in 2013 will be application-based, according to analyst Gartner, with attackers sending out targeted commands to applications to tax the central processing unit (CPU) and memory - making the application unavailable.
The analyst house has studied new attack methods used by attackers on the financial services and ecommerce sectors and predicts they will become more widespread this year.
Gartner analyst Avivah Litan said: "Last year witnessed a new level of sophistication in organised attacks against businesses across the globe, and they will grow in sophistication and effectiveness in 2013."
Litan added: "A new class of damaging DDoS attacks and devious criminal social-engineering ploys were launched against US banks in the second half of 2012, and this will continue in 2013 as well-organised criminal activity takes advantage of weaknesses in people, processes and systems."
Gartner has identified some of the top 2013 criminal trends and potential safeguards and solutions for firms at risk of attack, and will be outlining them at a London conference next month.
For instance, it says high-bandwidth DDoS attacks are becoming the new norm and will continue "wreaking havoc" on unprepared organisations in 2013.
Gartner said damaging DDoS attacks launched against US banks last year sometimes added up to 70 Gbps of noisy network traffic blasting at the banks through their internet pipes.
Until this recent spate of attacks most network-level DDoS attacks consumed only five Gbps of bandwidth, said Gartner, but more recent levels made it impossible for bank customers and others using the same pipes to get to their web sites.
"To combat this risk organisations need to revisit their network configurations and re-architect them to minimise the damage that can be done," said Litan. "Organisations that have a critical web presence and cannot afford relatively lengthy disruptions in online service should employ a layered approach that combines multiple DOS defences."
In addition, Gartner said customer contact centre call analytics and fraud prevention software should be deployed to help catch fraudsters committing crimes via social engineering or by using stolen identities. It says customers should also be educated on best security practices to help them