Story image

Comms providers hit by most DDoS attacks in Q3 2018

23 Jan 2019

The Nexusguard "Q3 2018 Threat Report" has revealed the emergence of an extremely stealthy distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack pattern targeting communications service providers (CSPs). 

This new vector exploits the large attack surface of ASN-level (autonomous system number) CSPs by spreading tiny attack traffic across hundreds of IP (internet protocol) addresses to evade detection. 

The ongoing evolution of DDoS methods suggests that CSPs need to enhance their network security posture and find more effective ways to protect their critical infrastructure and tenants. 

The continued discovery of new attack patterns should also alert enterprises to the importance of selecting DDoS-proof service providers.

The quarterly report, which measures thousands of DDoS attacks around the world, showed CSPs were targeted by 65.5% of DDoS attacks in Q3, given their extensive networks enabling access to tenants' assets. 

Attackers were found to have contaminated a diverse pool of IP addresses across hundreds of IP prefixes (at least 527 Class C networks, according to Nexusguard findings) with very small-sized junk traffic. As a result, the year over year average attack size in the quarter fell measurably - 82%.

"Perpetrators are using smaller, bit-and-piece methods to inject junk into legitimate traffic, causing attacks to bypass detection rather than sounding alarms with large, obvious attack spikes," says Nexusguard CTO Juniman Kasman. 

"Diffused traffic can cause CSPs to easily miss large-scale DDoS attacks in the making, which is why these organisations will need to share the load with the cloud at the network edge to minimise attack impact."

Nexusguard analysts believe that attackers conducted reconnaissance missions to map out the network landscape and identify the mission-critical IP ranges of targeted CSPs. 

Then they injected bits and pieces of junk into legitimate traffic, whose size easily bypassed detection thresholds. 

Mitigating broadly distributed, small-sized attack traffic is more difficult at the CSP level, in comparison to the traditional volumetric attack method on a small number of targeted IPs. 

The convergence of polluted traffic that slips through the "clean pipes" of upstream internet service providers forms a massive traffic flow that easily exceeds the capacity of mitigation devices, leading to high latency at best, deadlock at worst.

The "bit-and-piece" attacks observed in the quarter often leveraged open domain name system (DNS) resolvers to launch what is commonly known as DNS Amplification, whereby a targeted IP address receives only a small number of responses in each well-organised campaign, leaving little or no trace. 

Black-holing all traffic to an entire IP prefix may be a solution but is costly since black-holing will also block access to a wide range of legitimate services.

Other report findings show:

  • China advanced its lead of global attack origins, contributing more than 23% of worldwide campaigns
  • 15% of attacks originated in the United States
  • Simple Service Discovery Protocol (SSDP) amplification attacks rose 639.8% over Q2 2018, a result of the new pattern targeting CSPs

Nexusguard's quarterly DDoS threat research measures attack data from botnet scanning, honeypots, internet service providers (ISPs) and traffic moving between attackers and their targets to help companies identify vulnerabilities and stay informed about global cyber security trends.

Oracle updates enterprise blockchain platform
Oracle’s enterprise blockchain has been updated to include more capabilities to enhance development, integration, and deployment of customers’ new blockchain applications.
Used device market held back by lack of data security regulations
Mobile device users are sceptical about trading in their old device because they are concerned that data on those devices may be accessed or compromised after they hand it over.
Gartner names ExtraHop leader in network performance monitoring
ExtraHop provides enterprise cyber analytics that deliver security and performance from the inside out.
Symantec acquires zero trust innovator Luminate Security
Luminate’s Secure Access Cloud is supposedly natively constructed for a cloud-oriented, perimeter-less world.
Palo Alto releases new, feature-rich firewall
Palo Alto is calling it the ‘fastest-ever next-generation firewall’ with integrated cloud-based DNS Security service to stop attacks.
Facebook fights fake news ahead of Africa elections
“We also show related articles from fact-checkers for more context and notify users if a story they have shared is rated as false.”
The right to be forgotten online could soon be forgotten
Despite bolstering free speech and access to information, the internet can be a double-edged sword, because that access to information goes both ways.
Opinion: 4 Ransomware trends to watch in 2019
Recorded Future's Allan Liska looks at the past big ransomware attacks thus far to predict what's coming this year.