Teenage ‘LulzSec hacker’ accused of attacking websites is banned from seeing his girlfriend alone

On the face of it, teenager Ryan Cleary appears the archetypal computer geek who retreated from the real world into a digital one.

When he was charged with hacking into the website of the Serious Organised Crime Agency, observers branded him a recluse who needed to ‘get a girlfriend’.

But he was already dating Amy Chapman, 19, – and now a judge has refused his request to see her alone.

Suspect: Alleged computer hacker Ryan Cleary, 19, asked for his bail conditions to be altered so he can date his girlfriend without someone watching over himSuspect: Alleged computer hacker Ryan Cleary, 19, asked for his bail conditions to be altered so he can date his girlfriend without someone watching over him

The Aspergers sufferer is said to be a key member of the computer hacking network LulzSec, which has been blamed for attacks on the Serious Organised Crime Agency, the CIA, Sony and News International.

He is alleged to have controlled a ‘botnet’ of up to half a million compromised computers which he used to launch ‘denial of service’ attacks against websites.

He was charged in June and bail conditions imposed in court stipulate that he can only leave his home address with a parent.

Addressing London’s Southwark Crown Court, his defence barrister Ben Cooper asked for this to be changed so Cleary could see Miss Chapman without his parents being present.

Refusing the application, Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith said: ‘I will not consider making a variation until the police have interviewed her and that they are satisfied that she is responsible enough to take on the duty.’

 

Cleary and fellow alleged LulzSec member Jake Davis, 18, were not required to attend the hearing.

Davis is said to have operated from his bedroom in the Shetland Islands and used the online name Topiary.

The judge issued a stark warning to both defendants to comply with their bail conditions as he fixed their plea and case management hearing for January 27, 2012.

‘First of all bail has to be on the same stringent terms for both of these defendants and I reiterate, as I did to one of them who has appeared before me, that if they breach any of these conditions they can be arrested and brought before the court and almost certainly remanded in custody,’ he said.

Cleary, of South Beech Avenue, Wickford, Essex, is charged with five offences under the Computer Misuse and Criminal Law Acts.

 

He is alleged to have taken part in a denial of service attack – which cripple websites by overwhelming them with requests for data – that briefly brought down SOCA’s site.

Cleary is also accused of involvement in two similar attacks on the websites of both the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry and its British counterpart on November 28 and October 29 respectively.

A further charge alleges that he ‘made, adapted, supplied or offered to supply’ access to a ‘botnet’ – a network of computers, hijacked without their owners’ knowledge – for use in the attacks.

Each of the three charges relating to DoS attacks carry a maximum jail sentence of 10 years, while the botnet charge could result in up to two years imprisonment.

Davis, of Hoofields, Lerwick, Shetland, is alleged to have played a leading role in LulzSec, a group that was said to have been disbanded after being linked to attacks on a number of high-profile sites.

He is charged with gaining unauthorised access to a computer system, encouraging or assisting offences and two counts of conspiracy to commit offences.

He also faces a charge of conspiring to carry out a distributed denial of service attack – where a website is flooded with traffic to make it crash – on the Serious and Organised Crime Agency website.

Anonymous defaces BART site, leaks user data

Anonymous has apparently made good on a promise to wreak havoc on the Web site of the Bay Area Rapid Transit System today, although not exactly as planned.

Earlier, the amorphous collective had threatened to take Bart.gov offline for six hours today, or twice the amount of time BART managers took cell phone service offline at some BART stations Thursday night in order to head off a planned protest then. The distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack was supposed to begin at noon pacific time, according to a release from Anonymous.

As of 30 minutes past noon, the BART site was still online but running a little slow and with one notable change to the mybart.org Web site, which currently displays the Anonymous logo as seen below.

MyBart.org was still defaced as of 12:35 PM Pacific time on Sunday.

(Credit: Screen capture by Eric Mack/CNET)

As screen captures of the defacement began rocketing around Twitter, news came that Anonymous hackers had also accessed and posted online a database of mybart.org with user e-mails and some addresses and phone numbers.

Shortly after the mybart.org defacement, a more elaborate mark was left on californiaavoid.org, a Web site maintained by the California Office of Traffic Safety. The #opBART Facebook page claims the defacements are part of Anonymous’ protest effort against BART.

Californiaavoid.org as of 12:40 PM Pacific on Sunday.

For a brief period, BART posted two news releases on its Web site, one advising customers that its Web site could be attacked and go offline Sunday afternoon, another warning of possible interruptions to train service due to Anonymous’ planned peaceful, in-person protest during Monday evening’s rush hour. As of this writing, both releases are no longer visible, and BART.gov remains online almost an hour after Anonymous planned to take it down for the remainder of the afternoon.

Turkish Government Sites Targeted by Anonymous

Hacker group Anonymous said on Thursday it has launched DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks on some Turkish government websites, in protest against government plans to introduce Internet filtering.

The move comes a few days before Turkey holds parliamentary elections on Sunday.

By late Thursday, the site of Telekomünikasyon İletişim Başkanlığ, the Internet regulator that drew up the filtering plan, was not accessible.

In launching the DDoS attacks, Anonymous may have run into opposition from hacker groups in Turkey who threatened to hack Anonymous sites, according to reports. Anonymous’ news site, for example, was not accessible late Thursday. The group did not respond to an e-mailed request for comment.

Turkey’s Information Department was also not immediately available for comment.

Turks are protesting against new Internet rules that comes into effect from Aug. 22, and will require users to choose one of four filters before accessing the Internet.

In a petition on Avaaz.org, an online forum for mobilizing support for a cause, petitioners called on Turkey’s Information and Communication Technologies Authority, which is commonly known as BTK, to withdraw any regulations that include mandatory content filtering for Internet users in Turkey, and immediately reverse the new “Rules and Procedures on the Safe Use of the Internet”.

In a statement online, Anonymous said that the Turkish government is taking censorship to a new level. The new filtering systems will make it possible to keep records of everyone’s Internet activity, it added.

On Twitter, Anonymous said on Thursday that four sites in Turkey were inaccessible. But two of them, that of the country’s meteorological service and the ministry of national education, appeared to be up and running at time of writing.

Anonymous hacked earlier this week a the site of an Indian government IT organization in protest against corruption, and government action against anti-corruption protesters.

Understanding the Modern DDoS Threat

The breadth of cyber threats that an organization must engage with and combat seemingly change on a daily basis. Each new technology, vulnerability or exploit vector results in a new threat that must be protected against. Meanwhile some forms of attack never appear to age — they remain a threat to business continuity despite years of advances in defensive strategy. One particularly insidious and never-ending threat is that of the Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack.

Never far from the news headlines, DDoS attacks are the staple disruptive technique preferred by an increasingly broad spectrum of attackers. While they may be the oldest and most commonly encountered form of cyber attack, defenses against them are often non-trivial and even the best tried-and-tested protection can fail under a sufficiently well conceived attack.

In order to best understand the threat modern DDoS campaigns pose to enterprise networks and the businesses that depend upon them, I’ve pulled together a new whitepaper on the topic.

The paper “Understanding the Modern DDoS Threat” examines the technology, coordination tactics and motivations behind the DDoS attacks likely to pose a risk to Internet accessible businesses now and in the immediate future. It steps through the thought processes governing the primary instigators of the attacks and their tactics of choice.

Armed with this level of understanding, the folks charged with defending their organizations from the DDoS menace will be better able to mitigate the threat and effectively communicate its impact to the higher echelons of their organization.

Change.Org Victim of DDoS Attack From China

IDG News Service — Change.org, an online petitioning platform, has come under an ongoing distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack originating from China after the site hosted a call urging Chinese authorities to release artist Ai Weiwei from custody.

The attacks, which started late Sunday, have nearly brought down the site, according to Change.org founder Ben Rattray.

DDoS attacks work by using hundreds or thousands of hacked computers to send traffic to a website, overwhelming it with data so it becomes inaccessible to normal users.

Change.org said the current attack originates from an expanding group of computers primarily based in China, and has yet to stop. This is the first time the site has been hit with a DDoS attack.

Change.org has been hosting a online petition calling for the release of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who is currently under arrest. The petition has attracted almost 100,000 people from 175 countries, making it one of Change.org’s most successful international campaigns, Rattray said.

“It’s pretty clear the attack is in response to the campaign,” he added. “It’s extraordinary that somebody in China with a high-level of technical sophistication can impact the ability for people around the world to organize.”

The online call coincided with demonstrations across the world this past Sunday, which also called for the artist’s release. Ai, who is also known for his activism, has been detained as part of a Chinese government crackdown on political dissidents in the country.

Authorities in the country have arrested other human rights activists and clamped down on the information flow, following previous online postings that began in February calling for a “Jasmine revolution” against the Chinese government.

Change.org is currently blocked in China. Internet censors in the country regularly block sites that are deemed to politically sensitive.

Despite the block, the computers involved in the DDoS attack are managing to find a way around the country’s national Internet firewall, said Rattray.

In the past, other sites have been the victims of cyber attacks coming from China. This March, blog publishing platform WordPress.com also reported being hit with a DDoS attack originating from China.

Chinese hackers have also allegedly launched cyber attacks to steal data from foreign energy accompanies, according to security vendor McAfee (MFE). In 2009, Google (GOOG) was also the victim of an attack originating from China that was aimed at accessing the Gmail accounts of human rights activists

The Chinese government has previously responded to these reports by denying it is involved in any cyberattacks, adding that China has also been a victim of hacking attempts.

The true source of DDoS attacks is often unclear. Although Change.org has traced the current attack to servers in China, it is also possible the computers are under the control of hackers based in another country.

Change.org reports that both the FBI and U.S. State Department are looking into the DDoS attack.

“We won’t stop or take down anything because of this DDoS attack,” Rattray said. “We believe in the fundamental right of the people to organize around issues they care about it.”

Cybercriminals Target Russian News and Online Blogging Sites

Recently, Russian news and online blogging websites – Novaya Gazeta and LiveJournal suffered distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PRLog (Press Release)Apr 11, 2011 – Websites are targeted to gain unauthorized access to confidential information, disrupt services or lodge protest against information provided on those sites. Recently, Russian media and blog sites suffered massive cyber-attack. The latest attack targeted the website of popular newspaper Novaya Gazeta. Attackers purportedly launched distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. At its peak, the attack caused 70,000 requests to the website of Novaya Gazeta in 14 seconds. Information security professionals have restored the services of the website. The attack on the newspaper website follows a similar attack on LiveJournal, one of the most popular Russian blogging sites. According to an analysis by Kaspersky Lab, the DDoS attack on the popular blogging site was commanded by Optima/Darkness botnet. The attack was first directed on the blog of a well-known anti-corruption campaigner on LiveJournal. The attacks soon spread to the pages of other bloggers on the site. According to the Internet security firm, Optima botnet was first identified at the end of the previous year on the Russian cybercrime black market. The botnet is also notorious for downloading executable files, and stealing authentication information related to FTP clients, Instant Messengers (IM), e-mail clients and web browsers among others. Online technology degree programs, webinars and conferences may help IT professionals in updating their technical skills and know-how for proactive handling of sophisticated cyber threats.

In case of DDoS attacks, cybercriminals use several compromised computers to target a particular resource. Multitudes of requests are sent simultaneously to the targeted resource, making it virtually impossible for the resource to deliver normal services to the legitimate users. Cybercriminals compromise large number of vulnerable systems and install malicious software, without user’s knowledge. The compromised systems, called zombies are then instructed to attack to the targeted resource. By using the zombies to launch attack, the perpetrators of crime make it difficult for investigative authorities to trace the actual origin of the attack. Cyber security education through blogs, online tutorials, online computer degree programs may help in creating awareness on safe online computing practices among Internet users. Users must install and regularly update anti-malware programs to safeguard their computer systems against sophisticated cyber threats.

Both the sites offer platform for expression of alternative opinions on crucial issues. The attacks on these sites assume significance as the elections for ‘State Duma’, the Lower house of the Russian Parliament are scheduled to be held at the end of the year.   DDoS attacks on business websites may severely impact their productivity and result in losses. Administrators must regularly monitor the traffic to identify unusual activity. They may also configure data traffic limits. Professionals qualified in IT masters degree may help in implementing proper monitoring mechanisms and regular evaluation of networks for threat vectors. Organizations must have robust IT security policy in place. Regulations only provide for the minimum security requirements. Therefore, IT security must not be viewed as only a compliance activity. Organizations must be proactive in identification and mitigation of security flaws. IT security apparatus must be regularly evaluated and modernized in tune with changes in threat scenario.

GoDaddy hit with a 21 million PPS attack

From their post:

What Happened?

You might have noticed that some of you had trouble accessing your Go Daddy-hosted site over the weekend, March 25-26. And you’re also probably asking, “What happened?”

The short of it: We were the target of a 21-million-packets-per-second Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack.

A DDoS attack is an attempt to shut down a network by flooding it with nonsense requests. And 21 million packets per second is a lot of nonsense.

To put that into perspective: If it takes 5 packets per second to load the average website, then clicking refresh a few times would generate 20 packets per second. So think of 21 million packets per second as clicking refresh on your browser as fast as you can, while inviting 10 million of your closest friends to join you.

Read their full article here:

GoDaddy full article

QNX Announces First RTOS to Help Device Manufacturers Achieve Both Safety and Security Certification

Certified Plus can save customers time and expense by speeding rigorous certification processes and help accelerate their time to market

NUREMBERG, GERMANY–(Marketwire – March 1, 2011) - EMBEDDED WORLD (STAND 11-324) – QNX Software Systems Co., a global leader in operating systems and middleware for connected embedded systems, today announced the first realtime operating system (RTOS) to provide both safety and security certification, allowing manufacturers of mission-critical systems to significantly reduce the time and expense of certifying their end-products, including medical, automotive, and industrial devices.

QNX Neutrino Realtime Operating System (RTOS) Certified Plus™ is the only RTOS to offer both IEC 61508 certification at Safety Integrity Level 3 (SIL 3) and Common Criteria ISO/IEC 15408 certfication at Evaluation Assurance Level 4+ (EAL 4+).

“QNX Neutrino RTOS Certified Plus is an industry first, providing a significant competitive advantage to device manufacturers who must address rigorous demands for safety and security,” stated Derek Kuhn, vice president, sales and marketing, QNX Software Systems. “Our engineers have delivered the first product offering combining safety and security certification that can change the way companies bring products to market by reducing the time and expense required for them to get their end-products certified.”

Many of the systems vital to our daily living, work, and health are now controlled by software running on microprocessors embedded in cars, medical devices, power plants, and the energy grid. As the software complexity of these systems increases, so does the need for software components certified to meet stringent dependability and security requirements — these systems cannot fail.

Certification to IEC 61508 SIL 3 provides independent validation that QNX Neutrino RTOS Certified Plus delivers a very high level of reliability and risk reduction when used in safety-critical systems for medical, transportation, energy generation, process control, and other industries. Certification to the Common Criteria for Information Technology Security Evaluation provides validation from a certified laboratory that QNX Neutrino RTOS Certified Plus fulfills the functional security requirements and the enhanced methodologies and security controls required for EAL 4+.

Designed for systems that have low tolerance for failure, QNX Neutrino RTOS Certified Plus employs a modular microkernel architecture in which applications, device drivers, file systems, and networking stacks all run as separate, memory-protected components. It is the only certified RTOS to support the parallelism necessary for successful multi-core designs. It also supports adaptive partitioning, an efficient form of CPU time partitioning that prevents malicious code and denial-of-service (DoS) attacks from monopolizing the CPU.

QNX Neutrino RTOS Certified Plus is also POSIX-compliant, which allows application developers great flexibility to port applications to the platform.

Availability

QNX Neutrino RTOS Certified Plus will be available in Q2 2011. For more information, please send email to certified_plus@qnx.com.

QNX Embedded World Booth — Demonstration Highlights

QNX Software Systems will present the following demonstrations this week at Embedded World:

– Medical Reference Demo — Showcases a flexible Human Machine Interface (HMI), connectivity to Continua Certified™ medical devices, and wireless connectivity to a BlackBerry® PlayBook™ tablet.

– Interactive Home Security Demo Broadband home management solution from iControl Networks enables homeowners to see and control their home, including security and energy systems, via the Internet, mobile devices, and in-home touch screens.

– QNX CAR™ Application Platform Demo Includes digital instrument cluster, multimedia console, re-skinnable HMI, hands-free calling, streaming audio, Webkit browsing, and device connectivity to smartphones and other devices.

QNX Speakers at Embedded World Conference

– Tuesday, March 1, 10:00–10:30 — The Joy of Scheduling

– Wednesday, March 2, 14:15–15:00 — In-Field Debugging: Diagnosing Software Faults While Maintaining Availability

– Thursday, March 3, 11:30–12:30 — Using an IEC 61508-Certified RTOS Kernel for Safety-Critical Systems

About QNX Software Systems

QNX Software Systems Co., a subsidiary of Research In Motion Limited (RIM) (NASDAQ:RIMM; TSX:RIM), is a leading vendor of operating systems, middleware, development tools, and professional services for the embedded systems market. Global leaders such as Cisco, Daimler, General Electric, Lockheed Martin, and Siemens depend on QNX technology for network routers, vehicle telematics units, industrial control systems, medical instruments, security and defense systems, and other mission- or life-critical applications. Founded in 1980, QNX Software Systems Co. is headquartered in Ottawa, Canada; its products are distributed in over 100 countries worldwide. Visit www.qnx.com.

QNX, Momentics, Neutrino, Aviage, Photon and Photon microGUI are trademarks of QNX Software Systems GmbH & Co. KG, which are registered trademarks and/or used in certain jurisdictions, and are used under license by QNX Software Systems Co. The BlackBerry and RIM families of related marks, images and symbols are the exclusive properties and trademarks of Research In Motion Limited. All other trademarks belong to their respective owners.

QNX Software Systems Co. (QNX) is a subsidiary of Research In Motion Limited (RIM). Forward-looking statements in this news release are made pursuant to the “safe harbor” provisions of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and applicable Canadian securities laws. When used herein, words such as “expect”, “anticipate”, “estimate”, “may”, “will”, “should”, “intend,” “believe”, and similar expressions, are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are based on estimates and assumptions made by QNX in light of its experience and its perception of historical trends, current conditions and expected future developments, as well as other factors that QNX believes are appropriate in the circumstances. Many factors could cause QNX’s actual results, performance or achievements to differ materially from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements, including those described in the “Risk Factors” section of RIM’s Annual Information Form, which is included in its Annual Report on Form 40-F (copies of which filings may be obtained at www.sedar.com or www.sec.gov). These factors should be considered carefully, and readers should not place undue reliance on QNX’s forward-looking statements. RIM and QNX have no intention and undertake no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law.

Source: http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/QNX-Announces-First-RTOS-Help-Device-Manufacturers-Achieve-Both-Safety-Security-Certification-1403656.htm

Hillary Clinton’s plan to topple dictators with an open Internet

The ouster of dictators in Egypt and Tunisia made it imperative for Hillary Clinton to lay out a US plan to keep the Internet open for people seeking freedom. But exactly how remains an open question.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said all the right things in a speech on Internet freedom today. She was modest in admitting that the US government didn’t have all the answers – or even know all the right questions to ask – in shaping an open Internet worldwide in the future.

She urged repressive regimes to consider the “dictator’s dilemma” – that when they restrict or harass Internet use it will only harm them and their country in the long run. She termed preserving a free and open Internet “one of the grand challenges of our time.”

The fall of autocratic regimes in Tunisia and Egypt – with the possibility of more to come – came about at least in part because of online social media, from Twitter to Facebook to YouTube. The debate over just how crucial these new media were to the uprisings is just beginning. One could reasonably argue that outstanding coverage by Al Jazeera, in the form of traditional old-style televised reporting, played just as significant a role. As is often pointed out, the Egyptian protest continued on to a successful conclusion even after the government pulled the plug on Internet access.

But what’s already clear is that Internet’s role was real and significant. And now the Obama administration has begun to move beyond words to actions in promoting a free Internet worldwide. Clinton said that it will spend $20 million this year and $25 million next year funding a variety of programs, acting as a kind of venture capitalist to underwrite a number of approaches.

In recent days the State Department has set up its own Twitter feeds in Arabic and Farsi, and Clinton said a similar effort in Chinese will soon follow. She also pledged that monitoring and responding to Internet threats is now part of the State Department’s core mission.

That’s a start. More is needed. One key effort will be finding ways to help people get around fire walls that governments place on their Internet users, freeing their citizens to find out what the rest of the world is saying and doing. Individuals need to know how to set up secure e-mail accounts and how to defend their websites against denial of service attacks.

No one should assume that the Internet will somehow automatically be a force for good. As former journalist and savvy Internet watcher Rebecca MacKinnon points out, while King George VI used the relatively new medium of radio to rally Britain during World War II, Joseph Goebbels in Germany used it to spread Nazi propaganda. Technology plays no favorites in a war of ideas.

Twitter and other online social media themselves don’t represent a “silver bullet” that will pull down dictators and solve the world’s problems. That’s still up to courageous individuals.

But the Internet does represent an important tool – in spreading that courage, in assembling crowds – that must be valued and protected. A race is on between those trying to restrict online access – or infiltrate it and turn it into a means of repression – and those that prize openness.

The administration has been right to listen, test, and experiment. But the move to bigger, bolder actions shouldn’t wait forever.

Source: http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/the-monitors-view/2011/0215/Hillary-Clinton-s-plan-to-topple-dictators-with-an-open-Internet

VoIP security issues: How you might become a target for TDoS attacks

The maturation of enterprise VoIP deployments has opened IT organizations to a new world of VoIP security issues — telephony denial of service (TDoS) attacks, flagged by the FBI last year as a danger to consumers. Enterprise and contact center networks will also be attractive TDoS targets as hackers try to profit directly off attacks or use them as a diversion for a bigger con.

Like distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, TDoS attacks block legitimate VoIP sessions or disrupt business by flooding or hijacking IP telephony infrastructure with bogus calls. These attacks can saturate all of the lines on a SIP trunk to block phone calls or cause phones to ring incessantly.

In addition to the risk of data or financial theft that TDoS attacks pose — almost always by virtue of their ability to cause a diversion — they also paralyze user productivity and block legitimate business transactions or processes.

Dan Fontaine, senior vice president of technology at VIPdesk, a virtual contact center outsourcer, is still in the planning phases of deploying VoIP. But VoIP security issues such as TDoS prevention are already on his radar as potential threats to his business.

“We haven’t come up with a plan to address TDoS yet, but it is on the roadmap,” Fontaine said. “We are going to keep the VoIP traffic within the encrypted tunnel created by the Citrix Access Gateway. As a result, the VoIP ports will not be exposed to the Internet.”

Service providers have spent years wrestling with TDoS attacks, but those attacks were primarily aimed at theft of service, said Jonathan Zarkower, director of product marketing at Acme Packet, a session border controller (SBC) vendor. Hackers use enterprise TDoS attacks almost exclusively for financial gain, and most customers who have reported them said the attack was an inside job, he said.

“We actually see more inside attacks than outside attacks. There’s a lot of money to be made by disgruntled employees,” Zarkower said. “As IP continues to proliferate in the enterprise, I think we’re going to see more of this.”

Mitigating VoIP security issues: Track more than call volume

Acme Packet’s Net-Net series of SBCs has the ability to identify, intercept and shut down potential TDoS attacks, Zarkower said.

The appliances’ software can detect the insertion of white noise or other media, abnormal signals, call establishment and call flow rates. Net-Net SBCs by default block IP multipathing protocols (IPMP) which Zarkower said are not essential to voice communications and are often used to launch a TDoS attack.

“There are multiple facets to a TDoS attack, and whatever solution you’re using also has to be multifaceted,” he said. “It’s more than being able to detect unusually high call volume … [and prevention] also means implementation of organization-wide security practices, polices and enforcement.”

Contact centers, particularly in the financial and healthcare industries, are prime targets for TDoS attacks due to the high call volume and sensitive data they handle, according to Mykola Konrad, director of enterprise products at Sonus Networks, another SBC vendor.

Sonus recently announced two VoIP security applications, VoiceSentry Analyzer and VoiceSentry Guardian, which work in conjunction with Sonus’ SBC and take an application-layer approach to identifying and shutting down bogus calls.

VoiceSentry Analyzer, which operates on Oracle Netra servers, runs alongside Sonus’ SBCs and monitors call detail records (CDRs) and other metrics in real time as it looks for anomalies. It forwards suspicious calls to a second appliance, VoiceSentry Guardian, which runs on Sonus’ proprietary hardware. Guardian executes an audio CAPTCHA test on those suspicious calls.

“It routes you to a special announcement that says, ‘Please [dial] 1234,’ and if you’re a human being, you say, ‘This is idiotic’ and [dial] 1234,” Konrad said. “But if you’re a robot, you would have no idea what to do.”

Administrators can customize the test to sound like the rest of its Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system and disguise the CAPTCHA to appear more like a usual prompt a caller would expect, such as a prompt for an ID number, he said.

Telecom engineers can configure Guardian with policies that dictate how bogus calls are handled from there, whether they’re rerouted to law enforcement or simply dropped. Analyzer comes pre-populated with common attack patterns, and customers can subscribe to receive regular updates from Sonus’ database.

Sonus’ SBCs have traditionally prevented TDoS attacks at the packet layer, flagging malformed packets as phony. But that did nothing to stop calls from a software application designed to tie up lines with white noise, as one customer recently experienced, Konrad said.

The customer, which he declined to identify, had historically monitored the call volume in its contact center very closely. Telecom engineers there noticed minor increases in call volume — nothing that would be flagged as an attempt to overwhelm equipment with bottlenecks — but their software detected none of the hallmarks of an attack, such as signal irregularities or malformed packets, Konrad said. At the packet layer, they looked like legitimate sessions.

The small spikes in call volume coincided with reports from call center agents that they were receiving mysterious calls that contained just four minutes of white noise or siren sounds. After working with the FBI and their service provider, AT&T, the telecom engineers learned the calls originated from a hacker in Manitoba, Canada, Konrad said.

The hacker had purchased a bevy of SIP trunks and written a SIP dialing script that would call toll-free numbers and dial 8, which he had determined would likely bypass the IVR system to get a live agent, Konrad said. The hacker had misrepresented himself as a business customer “who just happened, as part of his business, to have to make many toll-free calls,” he said.

The hacker threatened his local carrier that he would take his “business” to another service provider if the local carrier didn’t give him a cut of the toll-free tariffs it collected from contact centers the hacker had targeted, Konrad said. The carrier obliged, he said.

“The very first thing people think is, ‘What’s wrong with the equipment?'” he said. “What you need is an application-aware appliance of some sort to really take a look at the media coming through … and at some level to even listen to the voice and say, ‘Is this a real human?'”

Source: http://searchunifiedcommunications.techtarget.com/news/2240031995/VoIP-security-issues-How-you-might-become-a-target-for-TDoS-attacks