Do network layer and application layer DDoS attacks differ?

Network layer and application layer DDoS attacks are significant threats. Learn about the differences between them and what you can do to reduce their effects.

A distributed denial of service, or DDoS, attack is a method to bring down a service by sending a flood of legitimate or illegitimate requests from multiple source devices. The goal is to overwhelm the target device so that it can no longer operate normally. Let’s examine two: network layer and application layer DDoS attacks.

Network DDoS attacks attempt to overwhelm the target by overtaxing available bandwidth. Network DDoS protections formerly were implemented at the network edge — typically, using next-gen firewalls and intrusion prevention systems. But, even with DDoS protections in place, a large-scale bot network can quickly overwhelm the edge.

Today, it’s more common for enterprises to tap into the resources of a cloud security service engineered with a high-capacity network expansive enough to handle massive amounts of data in the event a DDoS attack occurs. Because the service can handle the bandwidth capacity without the threat of its resources succumbing to overutilization, it can successfully identify and scrub DDoS traffic while passing on legitimate traffic to your servers. This architecture moves the threat of a bottleneck closer to the source of the attack where it can be better handled without interruption.

How application layer attacks work

Application layer DDoS attacks, on the other hand, don’t target network bandwidth. Instead, they strike the application (Layer 7 of the OSI model) running the service end users are trying to access. To that end, the server, server application and back-end resources are the main target. The goal of these attacks is to consume the resources of a specific service, thus slowing it or stopping it altogether.

Application layer DDoS attacks are trickier to identify and mitigate compared to a network layer DDoS attack. Common methods include the use of CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) tests to validate bots from humans. Additionally, the use of a web application firewall (WAF) is a great way to protect against more sophisticated application DDoS attacks. The purpose of a WAF is to use various signatures to discern between normal human requests and those sent from bots. A WAF can be deployed either on premises or through a third-party cloud security service provider.

Source: https://searchsecurity.techtarget.com/answer/Do-network-layer-and-application-layer-DDoS-attacks-differ

A new type of DDoS attack can amplify attack strength by more than 15,300%

By abusing a little-known multicast protocol, attackers can launch DDoS attacks of immense power, but there may be an easy fix.

Content delivery provider Akamai reports that a new method of launching distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks ranks as one of the most dangerous of all time.

This new method has already been seen in the wild, which is how Akamai gained an additional level of insight: A gaming industry Akamai client was recently hit with this new kind of attack.

The biggest concern that comes with this new attack is its ability to eat up immense amounts of bandwidth. The client Akamai mentioned saw peaks as high as 35 GB/s during their recent attack.

There’s a key multicast protocol that makes this new kind of DDoS possible: WS-Discovery (WSD).

WSD isn’t a well known protocol, but it is a widely used one, and can be found in thousands of internet-connected devices. WSD is a discovery protocol designed to make IoT devices communicate with a standard language, but it has a problem: It can be spoofed.

TechRepublic sister site ZDNet reported on WSD DDoS attacks at the end of August, giving a concise description of why this attack is so serious: “An attacker can send a UDP packet to a device’s WS-Discovery service with a forged return IP address. When the device sends back a reply, it will send it to the forged IP address, allowing attackers to bounce traffic on WS-Discovery devices, and aim it at the desired target of their DDoS attacks.”

The danger from WS-Discovery

ZDNet continued that WSD attacks aren’t common because of the obscurity of the protocol used to launch it, but this is changing. There has been an uptick in WSD attacks recently and with news about the protocol becoming public it’s likely the risk will only grow.

Akamai notes that WSD was never meant to be an internet-facing technology. Instead, it was meant for use on local area networks so devices could discover each other. Instead, Akamai said, manufacturers of internet-connected devices pushed them out with a misused protocol on them.

ZDNet said that more than 630,000 devices vulnerable to WSD attacks are discoverable on the internet, which give potential attackers a lot of amplification points.

How to stop a WS-Discovery attack

This attack is serious, but if Akamai is correct mitigating it may be simple. That said, if you think devices on your network are vulnerable be sure to follow these instructions: Eliminating attack vectors is only possible if everyone takes the right steps.

Here’s how simple the first part is: Just block UDP source port 3702.

That only covers your servers, though: There will still be traffic slamming your routers, which means you need to put an access control list (ACL) to your routers.

If you have a Cisco-style ACL:

ipv4 access-list [ACCESS-LIST NAME] 1 deny udp any eq 3702 host [TARGET IP] 
ipv4 access-list [ACCESS-LIST NAME] 2 deny udp any host [TARGET IP] fragments 

If you have a Linux iptables APL:

iptables -A INPUT -i [interface] -p udp -m udp —sport 3702 -j DROP 

Akamai paints a grim picture of the future of WSD attacks: “The only thing we can do now is wait for devices that are meant to have a 10 to 15-year life to die out, and hope that they are replaced with more secured version.”

That doesn’t mean you can’t do anything: Take the proper precautions by blocking ports, adding ACLs, and installing critical updates that could mitigate future risks.

Source: https://www.techrepublic.com/article/a-new-type-of-ddos-attack-can-amplify-attack-strength-by-more-than-15300/

Imperva Firewall Breach Exposes Customer API Keys, SSL Certificates

The issue impacts users of the vendor’s Cloud WAF product.

Imperva, the security vendor, has made a security breach public that affects customers using the Cloud Web Application Firewall (WAF) product.

Formerly known as Incapsula, the Cloud WAF analyzes requests coming into applications, and flags or blocks suspicious and malicious activity.

Users’ emails and hashed and salted passwords were exposed, and some customers’ API keys and SSL certificates were also impacted. The latter are particularly concerning, given that they would allow an attacker to break companies’ encryption and access corporate applications directly.

Imperva has implemented password resets and 90-day password expiration for the product in the wake of the incident.

Imperva said in a website notice that they learned about the exposure via a third party on August 20. However, the affected customer database contained old Incapsula records that go up to Sept. 15, 2017 only.

imperva

“We profoundly regret that this incident occurred and will continue to share updates going forward,” Imperva noted. “In addition, we will share learnings and new best practices that may come from our investigation and enhanced security measures with the broader industry. We continue to investigate this incident around the clock and have stood up a global, cross-functional team.”

Imperva also said that it “informed the appropriate global regulatory agencies” and is in the process of notifying affected customers directly.

When asked for more details (such as if this is a misconfiguration issue or a hack, where the database resided and how many customers are affected), Imperva told Threatpost that it is not able to provide more information for now.

Source: https://threatpost.com/imperva-firewall-breach-api-keys-ssl-certificates/147743/

Discord was down due to Cloudflare outage affecting parts of the web

Popular chat service Discord experienced issues today due to network problems at Cloudflare and a wider internet issue. The app was inaccessible for its millions of users, and even Discord’s website and status pages were struggling. Discord’s problems could be traced to an outage at Cloudflare, a content delivery network. Cloudflare started experiencing issues at 7:43AM ET, and this caused Discord, Feedly, Crunchyroll, and many other sites that rely on its services to have partial outages.

Cloudflare says it’s working on a “possible route leak” affecting some of its network, but services like Discord have been inaccessible for nearly 45 minutes now. “Discord is affected by the general internet outage,” says a Discord statement on the company’s status site. “Hang tight. Pet your cats.”

“This leak is impacting many internet services including Cloudflare,” says a Cloudflare spokesperson. “We are continuing to work with the network provider that created this route leak to remove it.” Cloudflare doesn’t name the network involved, but Verizon is also experiencing widespread issues across the East Coast of the US this morning. Cloudflare notes that “the network responsible for the route leak has now fixed the issue,” so services should start to return to normal shortly.

Cloudfare explained the outage in an additional statement, commenting that “Earlier today, a widespread BGP routing leak affected a number of Internet services and a portion of traffic to Cloudflare. All of Cloudflare’s systems continued to run normally, but traffic wasn’t getting to us for a portion of our domains. At this point, the network outage has been fixed and traffic levels are returning to normal.”

Source: https://www.theverge.com/2019/6/24/18715308/discord-down-outage-cloudflare-problems-crunchyroll-feedly

DDoS Attacks Up in Q1 After Months of Steady Decline

Sudden surge suggests that new actors have stepped up to the plate to replace the old operators.

Distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDoS) — particularly those lasting more than an hour — increased sharply in number during the first quarter of this year over the prior quarter after declining steadily for most of 2018.

The unexpected resurgence suggests that new suppliers of DDoS services have quietly emerged to replace operators that were disrupted in a series of law enforcement actions last year, Kaspersky Lab said in a report summarizing DDoS activity in Q1 2019.

The security vendor’s analysis shows the number of DDoS attacks in Q1 to be some 84% higher than the number recorded in the last three months of 2018.

One significant trend that Kaspersky Lab notes is an overall increase in the number of attacks lasting one hour or longer. Over one in 10 (10.13%) of the DDoS attacks in Kaspersky Lab’s dataset lasted between five hours and nine hours, and another 9.37% lasted between 10 hours and 49 hours — or more than two days. Some 2% of the attacks were longer than 50 hours, with the longest one lasting 289 hours, or just over 12 days.

In total, the proportion of sustained attacks, or those lasting more than an hour, nearly doubled from 11% of the overall number of DDoS attacks in the last quarter of 2018 to 21% of the total in the first three months this year. Correspondingly, the number of short-duration DDoS attacks lasting less than four hours declined — from 83.34% in Q4 2018 to 78.66% this year.

Alexander Gutnikov, an analyst with Kaspersky Lab DDoS prevention service, says attackers are increasingly moving away from volumetric, high-bandwidth attacks at the network (L3) and transport (L4) layers because of the mitigations available for such attacks. Instead, they are turning to smarter DDoS attacks such as those that target the application layer.

“The main driver of the growth of smart DDoS attacks is a decrease in the effectiveness of volumetric attacks,” Gutnikov says. “Volumetric attacks have to be very powerful to significantly affect the stability of resources,” For vendors that provide dedicated DDoS mitigation services, the trend is not particularly new. he adds.

As has been the case for several years, a majority of DDoS attacks last quarter were SYN flood attacks. However, the number of SYN attacks as a percentage of the overall total of DDoS attacks jumped sharply from 58.1% in the last quarter of 2018 to over 84% in this year’s first quarter. Meanwhile, other types of DDoS attacks, such as UDP flooding and TCP flooding, showed a corresponding decrease.

HTTP flooding attacks targeting the Web application layer are still relatively rare. However, the number of such attacks appears to be growing. Kaspersky Lab analysis shows HTTP flood attacks increasing in number from 2.2% of the overall total in Q4 to 3.3% last quarter. “In terms of the ratio of effectiveness and cost of organization, application-level attacks, L7, are an optimal option for malefactors,” Gutnikov notes.

A Persistent Threat
Kaspersky Lab’s new report is the latest to highlight the continuing threat that DDoS attacks present to organizations despite some major wins for law enforcement against those behind such attacks.

Last April, for instance, European law enforcement agencies, in cooperation with their counterparts in other regions of the world, dismantled Webstresser, one of the largest sites for buying and selling DDoS services at the time, and announced the arrests of the operators and several clients of the illegal outfit.

More recently the US Justice Department announced it had seized 15 websites offering similar DDoS-for-hire services and charged three individuals for their roles in the operation. In January, a Boston federal judge sentencedan individual convicted on charges of launching a DDoS attack on Boston Children’s Hospital to 10 years in prison.

The fact that the number of attacks increased last quarter are all the same suggests that new actors have stepped up to the plate to replace the old operators, according to Kaspersky Lab.

“We believe that the motives for DDoS services remain the same: politics, unfair competition, concealment of other cybercrime, or personal motives,” Gutnikov says. “And for people who conduct DDoS attacks, the main motive is money.”

Data from Verizon’s “2019 Data Breach Investigations Report” (DBIR) shows that public-sector organizations and those in the IT, finance, and professional services sectors are far more frequent targets of DDoS attacks than organizations in other industries. Verizon counted more than 990 DDoS incidents against public-sector organizations in 2018, 684 attacks against IT organizations, 575 targeting financial firms, and nearly 410 against professional services firms.

Financial services organizations and IT companies are also targets of some of the biggest DDoS attacks — from a bandwidth and packets-per-second standpoint. Verizon’s data shows that in 2018, the median size of DDoS attacks against financial services companies and IT organizations were 1.47 Gbps and 1.27 Gbps, respectively.

“Over time, DDoS attacks have been getting much more tightly clumped with regard to size,” with little difference in size between the largest and smallest attacks, Verizon said.

Ominously for enterprise organizations, while DDoS attacks, on average, have shrunk in size overall, there has been an increase in the number of really massive attacks.

According to security vendor Imperva, there has been a recent increase in DDoS attacks involving 500 million or more attack packets per second. During a one-week period earlier this year, Imperva’s researchers detected nine such DDoS attacks, with the largest one hitting an astounding 652 million packets per second.

Source:https://www.darkreading.com/attacks-breaches/ddos-attacks-up-in-q1-after-months-of-steady-decline/d/d-id/1334778

Preparing Your Mid-Market Business For Cyberattacks

Security headlines continue to focus on high-profile breaches of Fortune-ranked enterprises. But there is a second story being ignored. Cybercrime syndicates are also targeting, attacking and breaching small, medium and even micro organizations in greater and greater numbers. Multiple industry studies support this claim, including ones from Cisco and Ponemon.

Why exactly are these organizations being targeted, what are the attacks to defend against and how can these organizations start to defend themselves?

Fast Money With Lower Entry Barriers

Midsize organizations are relatively easy targets. Like enterprises, they are rapidly evolving. They have adopted the cloud and development and operations teams, and they have digitized all their valuable assets. But compared to enterprises, midsize organizations have smaller cybersecurity teams, lower organizational security awareness and fewer critical systems to infect —making them easier to breach and ransom. While cybercriminals still see larger enterprises as higher-value targets, midsize organizations have transformed themselves into low-hanging fruit that cybercrime syndicates are happy to snag. Midsize organizations keep the cash flow for cybercrime syndicates going while they try to earn high payoffs with large enterprise compromise.

 Supply Chains Are Vulnerable

Midsize organizations also offer easy entry points into the larger enterprises they service. In many high-profile, large-scale breaches — including the breaches of Target, OPM, Best Buy, Sears and UMG — cybercriminals first compromised their smaller third-party providers and used them to open backdoors into the real target. Large enterprises are taking notice and have begun to demand a high level of cybersecurity maturity from their third-party service providers.

The Evolution Of New Low-Cost Attacks

Attack technologies have evolved. In the past, cyberattacks were relatively resource-intensive, so criminals had to focus their limited resources on large, high-value organizations. However, cybercriminals can now use automated, scalable, on-demand attack infrastructures to quickly launch many sophisticated attacks against a high volume of targets. And smaller organizations are getting caught in this new spray-and-pray approach.

This will only get worse. Every year, cybercriminals will find it easier to launch attacks against many mid-size organizations, use their initial victims and deepen their compromise. And this problem is poised to explode due to artificial intelligence (AI). Cybercrime syndicates have already begun to experiment with AI-driven attack tools. These AI-driven hacking tools will continue to increase the speed and sophistication of cyber threats and only widen the asymmetry between attackers and defenders.

Compromised Machines: Artillery For Future Attacks

Cybercrime syndicates are harvesting small-to-midsize business (SMB) endpoints, converting them into weapons and using them to deploy larger attacks. Most endpoints — including PCs, laptops and mobile devices — are underutilized. Cybercriminals have learned how to compromise these endpoints, run backdoors on them to execute attacks and effectively create a large-scale distributed computing infrastructure to launch their campaigns. They are using thousands of compromised systems to launch smothering DDOS attacks on larger enterprises. They are compromising the email accounts of midsize organizations to bypass spam filters and produce short, effective bursts of phishing emails.

How Can Midsize Organizations Stay Safe?

Cybercrime syndicates will continue to innovate their techniques and scale their attack infrastructure. In fact, with the evolution of AI-driven attacks tools, compromising systems might be a simple voice command away for the attacker. Mid-market businesses will need to focus on the most-used threats because of their limited resources. Luckily, the 80-20 rule applies here, where the large majority of security problems stem from the following handful of threats.

Phishing Attacks

Most mid-size organizations have not implemented mature controls and robust user education programs to prevent phishing attacks, making them high-converting targets for phishing attacks. To get up to speed, midsize organizations need to focus on end-user awareness, strong email gateway security, two-factor authentication (2FA) for authentication and monitoring controls.

Malware Attacks

Malware attacks are more successful against midsize organizations, as they have smaller and simpler networks, and it takes attackers less time to reach organization crown jewels. In fact, according to a report from Verizon, 58% of malware victims are small organizations. As such, midsize organizations need to focus on detecting malware with good endpoint security, detecting lateral movement of attackers with analytics and rapidly containing successful breaches.

Cloud Console And Storage Attacks

As midsize organizations rush to get their cloud-based infrastructure into production, they often fail to realize that on-premise security mindset does not work in the cloud. Take, for example, storage security in the cloud. Small, inadvertent changes in the cloud can produce global high-impact data loss. Many organizations have suffered data exposure, due to Amazon Web Services S3 buckets being configured for public access.

Cybercrime syndicates are actively taking control of organizations by compromising their cloud consoles to steal data and demand ransom. These attacks are not new. Way back in 2014, Code Spaces completely shut downdue to console takeover. But today, automation is making these attacks faster and more common.

To protect against them, midsize organizations should tighten console access with 2FA, establish tighter role permissions and monitor different cloud components stringently. Simply put, a combination of weak console and storage permissions can prove fatal for any midsize organization.

Web Application Attacks

Web applications have been a weak link traditionally. With the current innovation wave incorporating microservices, containers and federated access — it has become more complex to secure.

Right now, the top web application attacks include SQL injection, cross-site scripting and parameter manipulation. This means mid-size organizations need to focus on building robust web application firewall (WAF) protection, continuously monitor all attack events on their web applications and, of course, ensure secure coding as part of their development, security and operations program.

Of course, it is not an asymmetric game in favor of cybercriminals. Artificial intelligence is part of many cybersecurity tools today, making it easier to detect and respond to these emerging scenarios.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2019/04/24/preparing-your-mid-market-business-for-cyberattacks/#61cc791252ef

The correlation between DDoS attacks and cryptomining

There is a direct correlation between cryptocurrency and DDoS attacks. As the price of cryptocurrency dropped in 2018, leading to decreased profits from cryptomining, hackers on the black market began to divert prime botnet resources to DDoS attack activities, which increased month by month.

correlation DDoS attacks cryptomining

DDoS attacks in 2018

In NSFOCUS’ 2018 DDoS Attack Landscape report, NSFOCUS analyzed the threat landscape after a landmark year of technological growth related to cloud computing, big data, artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), and Industry 4.0.

Key findings include:

  • Attackers were more inclined to launch DDoS attacks when the short-term benefits from cryptomining activities declined in 2018.
  • In 2018, DDoS attacks kept expanding in size as DDoS-as-a-Service experienced a fast growth.
  • Of all internet attack types, 25% of attackers were recidivists responsible for 40% of all attack events. The proportion of recidivists in DDoS attacks decreased in 2018, making up about 7% of DDoS attackers that launched 12% of attack events.
  • Cloud services/IDCs, gaming, and e-commerce were the top three industries targeted by attackers.
  • The total number of DDoS attacks in 2018 reached 148,000, down 28.4% from 2017, driven by effective protections against reflection attacks, which decreased considerably.
  • In 2018, the most frequently seen attacks were SYN flood, UDP flood, ACK flood, HTTP flood, and HTTPS flood attacks, which all together accounted for 96% of all DDoS attacks.
  • Of all DDoS attacks, 13% used a combination of multiple attack methods. The other 87% were single-vector attacks.

correlation DDoS attacks cryptomining

“The fluctuation of Bitcoin prices has a direct bearing on DDoS attack traffic,” said Richard Zhao, COO at NSFOCUS.

“This, along with other report findings, can help us better predict and prepare for DDoS attacks. Attackers are after profits and as we watch bitcoin fluctuate, we will continue to see this correlation pop up. DDoS attacks have never stopped since making their debut – analyzing trends in this report helps companies keep up with the fluid attack and threat landscape.”

Source: https://www.helpnetsecurity.com/2019/04/15/correlation-ddos-attacks-cryptomining/

DOSarrest Launches New Cloud Based Network Traffic Analyzer Service

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, March 19, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — DOSarrest Internet Security announced today that they have released a new service offering called DOSarrest Traffic Analyzer (DTA). This new service allows subscribers to send their Netflow, Sflow or Jflow network data from their routers and switches to DOSarrest’s Big Data cluster, then login to their portal and graphically see what types and volumes of traffic are flowing in and out of their networks in almost real-time. Using this traffic intelligence, network operators can pinpoint the cause of any congestion, create their own ACLs to white-list or black-list any malicious networks. It gives engineers the intelligence they need to understand how their network is being used and for what purpose.

Some of the real-time graphical and historical information available in the dashboard is

Top 10 Source Countries
Top 10 Source Networks
Top 10 Source ASNs
Top 10 Source Netblocks
Top 10 Destination IPs
Top 10 Destination IPs
Top 10 Protocols and Ports

DOSarrest CTO, Jag Bains states, “I have been running Internet backbones for over 20 years and having something that is this cost effective has always been a problem, most solutions require expensive hardware and licensing or extensive software development. Setup is easy with DTA, just add 1 line to the router config and you’re done.”

This new service can also be combined with DOSarrest’s existing DDoS protection for network infrastructure service, where customers, using the same dashboard can automatically stop any DDoS attack on a customer’s data center or corporate network.

CEO Mark Teolis adds, “This service is really in its infancy, we are already working on version 2 and we plan on releasing a new version every 90 days thereafter. Once the network flow information is in the big data platform, there’s so much that can be done to extract network intelligence, it’s almost impossible to predict today what and how it can help network operators going forward. We are starting to test with some machine learning models to see what it can do.”

About DOSarrest Internet Security:
DOSarrest founded in 2007 in Vancouver, B.C., Canada specializes in fully managed cloud based Internet security services including DDoS protection services, Data Center Defender (DCD), Web Application Firewall (WAF), DDoS Attack testing, as well as cloud based global load balancing.

More information at http://www.DOSarrest.com

Source: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/dosarrest-launches-new-cloud-based-network-traffic-analyzer-service-300814472.html

DIY Botnet Detection: Techniques and Challenges

Botnets continue to spread to places never dreamed of a few years ago. But you can fight them off, and these tips can help.

Botnets have been around for over two decades, and with the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), they have spread further to devices no one imagined they would: routers, mobile devices, and even toasters.

Some botnets are legions of bot-soldiers waiting for a command to attack a target server, generally to overwhelm the server with a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. Other botnets target specific devices by stealing passwords or mining cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency mining, in particular, has been a dramatically growing threat for organizations recently, with botnets such as Coinhive and CryptoLoot enabling cybercriminals to make as much as $100 million a year at the expense of victims’ computing power. Smominru, among the largest cryptocurrency-mining botnets, has infected over half a million machines using the infamous EternalBlue exploit leaked from the NSA.

To prevent botnet infections, organizations must be able to detect them. But botnet detection isn’t easy. Let’s explore some of the top techniques and challenges in botnet detection.

Methods for Botnet Detection
So, what’s a botnet? Simply put, it’s a cluster of bots — compromised computers and devices — that perform commands given by the botnet owner. Usually, the botnet owner will dedicate a command and control server (C2), a compromised server for communicating with the bots, usually via Internet Relay Chat commands. The botnet owner uses the C2 server to order botnets to execute attacks, whether that’s DDoS attacks, data theft, identity theft, or another type of attack. Thus, the smoking gun that points to a botnet is its C2 server.

Unfortunately, finding the C2 isn’t usually a simple task. Many botnet commands emerge from multiple servers or take hidden forms, masking the malicious commands as harmless activity such as Tor network traffic, social media traffic, traffic between peer-to-peer services, or domain-generation algorithms. Further complicating matters, the commands are often very subtle, making it difficult to detect any anomalies.

One method for attempting to detect C2s is breaking down and analyzing the malware code. Organizations can try to disassemble the compiled code, from which they can sometimes identify the root source of the botnet’s commands. However, since botnet creators and administrators increasingly are using integrated encryption, this technique is less and less effective.

Generally, C2 detection requires visibility into the communication between a C2 server and its bots, but only security solutions that specifically protect C2 servers will have this kind of visibility. A more common approach for detecting botnets is tracking and analyzing the attacks themselves — into which standard security solutions provide visibility — and determining which attacks originated from botnets.

When looking at exploit attempts, there are a few possible indications for a botnet. For example, if the same IP addresses attack the same sites, at the same time, using the same payloads and attack patterns, there’s a good chance they’re part of a botnet. This is especially true if many IPs and sites are involved. One prominent example is a DDoS attempt by a botnet on a web service.

Source: Johnathan Azaria
Source: Johnathan Azaria

False Positives
The likelihood of false positives makes botnet detection particularly difficult. Some payloads are widely used, raising the probability of a randomly occurring pattern triggering a false positive. Additionally, attackers can change their IP addresses by using a virtual private network or a proxy, making it look like many attackers or bots are involved when there’s really only one.

Hacking tools and vulnerability scanners also behave similarly enough to botnets to often return false positives. This is because hacking tools generate the same payloads and attack patterns, and many hackers use them, regardless of the color of their hat. And, if different players happen to conduct a penetration test on the same sites at the same time, it may look like a botnet attack.

Organizations can often identify false positives by Googling the payload and referencing any documented information around it. Another technique involves simply gleaning any information readily available within the raw request in the security solution. For example, if a vulnerability scanner is to blame, most security solutions will reveal that by identifying it, especially if it’s one of the more common vulnerability scanners.

False positives are an unavoidable challenge in botnet detection given the enormous amount of potential incidents; recent research shows that 27% of IT professionals receive over 1 million security alerts every day, while 55% receive more than 10,000. But with the right techniques and diligence, organizations can discern the harmless traffic from the malicious, botnet-driven traffic.

Source: https://www.darkreading.com/cloud/diy-botnet-detection-techniques-and-challenges/a/d-id/1333949

When 911 Goes Down: Why Voice Network Security Must Be a Priority

When there’s a DDoS attack against your voice network, are you ready to fight against it?

An estimated 240 million calls are made to 911 in the US each year. With the US population estimated at more than 328 million people as of November 2018, this means each US resident makes, on average, more than one 911 call per year. 911 is a critical communications service that ensures the safety and individual welfare of our nation’s people.

So, what happens when the system goes down?

Unfortunately, answers can include delays in emergency responses, reputational damage to your brand or enterprise by being associated with an outage, and even loss of life or property. We have seen very recent examples of how disruption in 911 services can impact municipalities. For example, days after Atlanta was struck by a widespread ransomware attack, news broke of a hacking attack on Baltimore’s computer-assisted dispatch system, which is used to support and direct 911 and other emergency calls. For three days, dispatchers were forced to track emergency calls manually as the system was rebuilt — severely crippling their ability to handle life-and-death situations.

In 2017, cybersecurity firm SecuLore Solutions reported that there had been 184 cyberattacks on public safety agencies and local governments within the previous two years. 911 centers had been directly or indirectly attacked in almost a quarter of those cases, most of which involved distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.

Unfortunately, these kinds of DDoS attacks will continue unless we make it a priority to improve the security of voice systems, which remain dangerously vulnerable. This is true not just for America’s emergency response networks, but also for voice networks across a variety of organizations and industries.

The Evolving DDoS Landscape
In today’s business world, every industry sector now relies on Internet connectivity and 24/7 access to online services to successfully conduct sales, stay productive, and communicate with customers. With each DDoS incident costing $981,000 on average, no organization can afford to have its systems offline.

This is a far cry from the early days of DDoS, when a 13-year-old studentdiscovered he could force all 31 users of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s CERL instruction system to power off at once. DDoS was primarily used as a pranking tool until 2007, when Estonian banks, media outlets, and government bodies were taken down by unprecedented levels of Internet traffic, which sparked nationwide riots.

Today, DDoS techniques have evolved to use Internet of Things devices, botnets, self-learning algorithms, and multivector techniques to amplify attacks that can take down critical infrastructure or shut down an organization’s entire operations. Last year, GitHub experienced the largest-ever DDoS attack, which relied on UDP-based memcached traffic to boost its power. And just last month, GitHub experienced a DDoS attack that was four times larger.

As these attacks become bigger, more sophisticated, and more frequent, security measures have also evolved. Organizations have made dramatic improvements in implementing IP data-focused security strategies; however, IP voice and video haven’t received the same attention, despite being equally vulnerable. Regulated industries like financial services, insurance, education, and healthcare are particularly susceptible — in 2012, a string of DDoS attacksseverely disrupted the online and mobile banking services of several major US banks for extended periods of time. Similarly, consider financial trading — since some transactions are still done over the phone, those jobs would effectively grind to a halt if a DDoS attack successfully took down their voice network.

As more voice travels over IP networks and as more voice-activated technologies are adopted, the more DDoS poses a significant threat to critical infrastructure, businesses, and entire industries. According to a recent IDC survey, more than 50% of IT security decision-makers say their organization has been the victim of a DDoS attack as many as 10 times in the past year.

Say Goodbye to DDoS Attacks
For the best protection from DDoS attacks, organizations should consider implementing a comprehensive security strategy that includes multiple layers and technologies. Like any security strategy, there is no panacea, but by combining the following solutions with other security best practices, organizations will be able to better mitigate the damages of DDoS attacks:

  • Traditional firewalls: While traditional firewalls likely won’t protect against a large-scale DDoS attack, they are foundational in helping organizations protect data across enterprise networks and for protection against moderate DDoS attacks.
  • Session border controllers (SBCs): What traditional firewalls do for data, SBCs do for voice and video data, which is increasingly shared over IP networks and provided by online services. SBCs can also act as session managers, providing policy enforcement, load balancing and network/traffic analysis. (Note: Ribbon Communications is one of a number of companies that provide SBCs.)
  • Web application firewalls: As we’ve seen with many DDoS attacks, the target is often a particular website or online service. And for many companies these days, website uptime is mission-critical. Web application firewalls extend the power of traditional firewalls to corporate websites.

Further, when these technologies are paired with big data analytics and machine learning, organizations can better predict normative endpoint and network behavior. In turn, they can more easily identify suspicious and anomalous actions, like the repetitive calling patterns representative of telephony DoS attacks or toll fraud.

DDoS attacks will continue to be a threat for organizations to contend with. Cybercriminals will always look toward new attack vectors, such as voice networks, to find the one weak spot in even the most stalwart of defenses. If organizations don’t take the steps necessary to make voice systems more secure, critical infrastructure, contact centers, healthcare providers, financial services and educational institutions will certainly fall victim. After all, it only takes one overlooked vulnerability to let attackers in.

Source: https://www.darkreading.com/attacks-breaches/when-911-goes-down-why-voice-network-security-must-be-a-priority-/a/d-id/1333782