Akamai Releases Q4, 2012 'State of the Internet' Report: Healthy, Growing Faster but Under Attack


These past few days have been good ones for looking at the health and welfare of the online world. Hard on the heels of Verizon’s Data Breach Investigation Report (DBIR) and the Webroot study on remote access increasing cyber risks, comes the Akamai Technologies release of its Q4 , 2012 State of the Internet Report. Based on data gathered from the Akamai Intelligent Platform, the report provides insight into key global statistics including: connection speeds, attack traffic and network connectivity and availability.

There were also some other interesting factoids in the 48 page report that make it a nice companion piece to what I think are the other must read studies. These include: analysis of Phase II of the Operation Ababil attacks, and examinations of Internet disruptions in Syria, Bangladesh, and Senegal, and a long section on the IPv4 exhaust situation. The report also reviews mobile browser usage by network connection type collected by Akamai IO.

Report findings

Highlights from Akamai's Fourth Quarter, 2012 Report are in the following areas:

Global Internet Penetration:  Nearly 700 million unique IPv4 addresses from 240 countries/regions connected to the Akamai Intelligent Platform – 4.2 percent more than in the third quarter of 2012 and 13 percent more than in the fourth quarter of 2011. Since a single IP address can represent multiple individuals in some cases – such as when users access the Web through a firewall or proxy server – Akamai estimates the total number of unique Web users connecting to its platform during the quarter to be well over one billion.

What this looked like by country can be seen below.

Akamai, Q4 , 2012 State of the Internet Report

Attack Traffic and Top Ports Attacked:  Akamai can identify the top countries from which attack traffic originates, as well as the top ports targeted by these attacks. The company notes that the originating country as identified by the source IP address may not represent the nation in which an attacker resides.

Further, Akamai observed attack traffic from 177 unique countries/regions during the fourth quarter of 2012, down from 180 in the third quarter. China again is the single largest volume source of observed traffic at 41 percent of the total, up from 33 percent in the prior quarter. The U.S. remained in the number two spot despite a drop in observed attack traffic from 13 percent to 10 percent in the fourth quarter. Turkey took over Russia's number three spot with 4.7 percent.

The top 10 countries/regions generated 75 percent of the observed attack traffic during Q4 with China and the United States being highlighted as responsible for slightly more than 50 percent of total attack traffic.

Port 445 (Microsoft-DS) remained the most targeted port in the fourth quarter, receiving 29 percent of attack traffic. Port 23 (Telnet) was again second at 7.2 percent.

Where things get really interesting is looking at the DDoS sector attacks.

Akamai, Q4 , 2012 State of the Internet Report

Not surprisingly financial and business services were main targets but the bad guys spread their malevolence around.

Global Average and Peak Connection Speeds:  This is one the industry and policy makers focus on and there is good news for all of us. Quarter-over-quarter, the global average connection speed rose five percent to 2.9 Mbps. Further, a total of 98 countries/regions that qualified for inclusion saw average connection speeds increase from the third quarter of 2012, ranging from 0.1 percent growth in the Netherlands and Luxembourg to 23 percent growth in Côte d'Ivoire. 

The country figures are particularly revealing. For those of us who reside in the U.S., for example, you are probably thinking that our policy makers should be looking at South Korea and have a severe case of broadband envy. This is non-trivial though since study after study have shown the importance of next generation communications infrastructure on economic vitality. While not necessarily a perfect indicator of future country economic performance, it is not a bad place to start. Let’s just say that the next FCC chairman is going to have to think about this, and the good folks in the European Union ought to be looking at these numbers very hard given the need for investments in communications infrastructure in that part of the world. 

Akamai, Q4 , 2012 State of the Internet Report

"Looking back across the year, we observed strong growth in our key connectivity metrics around the world. We believe that this points to greater availability of broadband connectivity, as well as increased speeds on those connections. This is supported as well by the long-term trends observed over the five-year history of the State of the Internet Report," explained David Belson, the report's editor. "The combination of improved broadband availability and higher speeds should open the door for greater innovation in how the Internet is used by both businesses and individuals around the globe."

Mobile Connectivity: Again, there is good news on the mobility speed front as the trend is directionally correct. The fourth quarter of 2012 saw average connection speeds on surveyed mobile network operators range from a high of just over 8.0 Mbps to a low of 345 kbps. Eight providers demonstrated average connection speeds in the "broadband" (>4 Mbps) range. 64 percent of providers delivered average connection speeds greater than one Mbps. Data collected by Ericsson shows that mobile data traffic doubled from the fourth quarter of 2011 to the fourth quarter of 2012, and grew 28 percent between the third and fourth quarter of 2012.

The report also serves as validation of what is going on in the device market. It found:

  • Mobile devices using Android Webkit accounted for the largest percentage of requests (35.3 percent) from devices on cellular networks connecting to the Akamai Intelligent Platform
  • Apple Mobile Safari represented 32.6 percent
  • When analyzed across all network types, the ratios were markedly different, with Apple Mobile Safari accounting for 58.7 percent of requests, and Android Webkit responsible for 21.7 percent

The reason this is an industry observer and analyst delight is the granularity provided in the geographic and other breakdowns that make comparisons easy. And, while I have not included the pertinent information about IPv4 exhaust, by all means take a close look. It is a good thing IPv6 is ready, even if implementation readiness is not where one might think it would be.

Finally, it also should be noted that this is much more than merely anecdotal information. It is estimated that Akamai sees as much as 30 percent of all Internet traffic.  

Edited by Jamie Epstein
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