Blocking DDoS Archive

With the help of machine learning and AI, software-defined networks could soon aid businesses with network management.

A network that can fix and optimize itself without human intervention could become a reality soon – but not without some training. With the help of machine learning and artificial intelligence, software-defined networks can learn to help with network management by using operational data.  Initial application of AI to WAN operations includes security functions such as DDoS attack mitigation as well as near real-time, automated path selection, and eventually AI-defined network topologies and basic operations essentially running on ‘auto-pilot’.

Enhancing IT operations with artificial intelligence (AI), including configuration management, patching, and debugging and root cause analysis (RCA) is an area of significant promise – enough so that Gartner has defined the emerging market as “AIOps”. These platforms use big data and machine learning to enhance a broad range of IT operations processes, including availability and performance monitoring, event correlation and analysis, IT service management, and automation (Gartner “Market Guide for AIOps platforms,” August 2017).

Gartner estimates that by 2022, 40 percent of all large enterprises will combine big data and machine learning functionality to support and partially replace monitoring, service desk and automation processes and tasks, up from five percent today.

Limits of automation and policy for NetOps

Given the traditional split between APM (application performance management) and NPM (network performance management), even the best network management tools aren’t always going to help trace the root cause of every application and service interruption. There can be interactions between network and application that give rise to an issue, or a router configuration and issue with a service provider that’s impacting application performance.

Network operations personnel might respond to an incident by setting policies in the APM or NPM systems that will alert us when an unwanted event is going to happen again. The issue with policy-based management is that it is backwards looking. That’s because historical data is used to create into policies that should prevent something from happening again. Yet, policy is prescriptive; it doesn’t deal with unanticipated conditions. Furthermore, changes in business goals again more human intervention if there isn’t a matching rule or pre-defined action.

On the whole, SD-WAN services represent an improvement over management of MPLS networks. Still, the use of an SD-WAN isn’t without its own challenges. Depending on the number of locations that have to be linked, there can be some complexity in managing virtual network overlays. The use of on-demand cloud services adds another layer of complexity. Without sufficient monitoring tools, problems can escalate and result in downtime. At the same time, adding people means adding cost, and potentially losing some of the cost efficiencies of SD-WAN services.

AI is way forward for SD-WAN management

What would AIOps bring to SD-WAN management?

Starting with a programmable SD-WAN architecture is an important first step towards a vision of autonomous networking.  Programmable in this case means API-driven, but the system also needs to leverage data from the application performance and security stack as well as the network infrastructure as inputs into the system so that we can move from simple alerting to intelligence that enables self-healing, managing and optimization with minimal human intervention.

Monitoring all elements in the system in real time (or at least near real time) will require storing and analyzing huge amounts of data. On the hardware side, cloud IaaS services have made that possible. Acting on the information will require artificial intelligence in the form of machine learning.

Use Cases for AI in SD-WAN

There are a variety of ways to apply machine learning algorithms to large datasets from supervised to unsupervised (and points in between) with the result being applications in areas such as:

  • Security, where unexpected network traffic patterns and patterns of requests against an application can be detected to prevent DDoS attacks.
  • Enhancing performance of applications over the internet network with optimized route selection.

Looking more closely at security as a use case, how would AI and ML be able to augment security of SD-WANs? While the majority of enterprises are still trying to secure their networks with on-premise firewalls and DDoS mitigation appliances, they are also facing attacks that are bigger and more sophisticated. According to statistics gathered by Verisign last year:

  • DDoS attacks peaked at over 5Gbps approximately 25% of the time
  • During Q3 2017, 29% of attacks combined five or more different attack types.

Challenge: A multi-vector attack on an enterprise network has affected service availability in Europe.

Response: Application of AIOps to the SD-WAN underlay can automate the response to the attack. Instead of manually re-configuring systems, the network can automatically direct traffic to different traffic scrubbing centers based on real-time telemetry around network and peering point congestion, mitigation capacity, and attack type/source. Because the system can process data from outside sources at speeds far beyond human ability to manage the network, the system can adjust traffic flows back to normal transit routes as soon as the attack subsides, saving money on the cost of attack mitigation. AI and ML in conjunction with a programmable SD-WAN are capable of responding more quickly and in more granular fashion than is possible with standard policy-based “automatic detection” and mitigation techniques.

Where does AI in network go next?

Although the industry is still in the early days of applying machine learning to networking, there are a number of efforts underway to keep an eye on. One is the Telecom Infra Project (TIP), founded by Facebook and telecom first firms such as Deutsche Telecom and SK Telecom, which now counts several hundred other companies as members. The TIP recently started collaborating on AI with an eye towards predictive maintenance and dynamic allocation of resources. Important groundwork for the project will include defining common dataset formats that are used to train systems. That work could lead to further sharing of data between network providers and web companies, offering the prospect of significant improvements to security and threat detection for enterprises and consumers.

Further in the future, we might expect to see an AI designed network topology, combined with SDN control over resources. Networking will have moved from a paradigm of self-contained networks to a network ‘awareness’ overlay which enables coordinated, intelligent actions based on operator intention. Network engineers can put the system on ‘auto-pilot’ during everyday computing, and instead spend time orchestrating resources based on the goals of the business.

Source: https://www.itproportal.com/features/how-to-train-your-network-the-role-of-artificial-intelligence-in-network-operations/

According to the Q2 2018 Threat ReportNexusguard’s quarterly report, the average distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack grew to more than 26Gbps, increasing in size by 500%.

The research looked at the same period last year and found that the maximum attack size quadrupled to 359Gbps. Evaluating thousands of worldwide DDoS attacks, researchers reportedly gathered real-time attack data from botnet scanning, honeypots, ISPs and traffic moving between attackers and their targets. Data analysis led researchers to attribute the stark surge to IoT botnets and Satori malware exploits, one of many variants of the Mirai malware.

“Due to the increase in IoT-related malware exploits and the rampant growth of large-scale DDoS attacks, research conclusions point to the continued use of IoT botnets. Cyber-attacks hit the 2018 FIFA World Cup, as well as cryptocurrency-related businesses, maximizing revenue loss,” Nexusguard wrote in a press release. Additionally, attacks on the Verge Network (XVG) resulted in a significant loss of 35 million XVG tokens.

“The biggest zero-day risks can stem from various types of home routers, which attackers can exploit to create expansive DDoS attacks against networks and mission-critical services, resulting in jumbo-sized attacks intended to cripple targets during peak revenue-generating hours,” said Juniman Kasman, chief technology officer for Nexusguard.

“Telcos and other communications service providers will need to take extra precautions to guard bandwidth against these super-sized attacks to ensure customer service and operations continue uninterrupted.”

Nexusguard analysts advise communications service providers (CSPs) and other potentially vulnerable operations to augment their preparedness so that they are able to maintain their bandwidth, especially if they lack full redundancy and failover plans in their infrastructures. CSPs and vulnerable organizations that enhance bandwidth protection will be better positioned to stay ahead of the surging attack sizes.

“In the quarter, increasingly large attacks (a YoY average-size increase of 543.17%) had a severe impact on Communication Service Providers (CSP),” the report said. “Serving as a link between attack sources and victim servers and infrastructures, CSPs bear the burden of the increasing size of traffic, irrespective of its source or destination. As such, Internet service is degraded.”

Source: https://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/news/ddos-attacks-increase-in-size-by/

When we think of DDoS protection, we often think about how to keep our website up and running. While searching for a security solution, you’ll find several options that are similar on the surface. The main difference is whether your organization requires a cloud, on-premise or hybrid solution that combines the best of both worlds. Finding a DDoS mitigation/protection solution seems simple, but there are several things to consider.

It’s important to remember that DDoS attacks don’t just cause a website to go down. While the majority do cause a service disruption, 90 percent of the time it does not mean a website is completely unavailable, but rather there is a performance degradation. As a result, organizations need to search for a DDoS solution that can optimize application performance and protect from DDoS attacks. The two functions are natural bedfellows.

The other thing we often forget is that most traditional DDoS solutions, whether they are on-premise or in the cloud, cannot protect us from an upstream event or a downstream event.

  1. If your carrier is hit with a DDoS attack upstream, your link may be fine but your ability to do anything would be limited. You would not receive any traffic from that pipe.
  2. If your infrastructure provider goes down due to a DDoS attack on its key infrastructure, your organization’s website will go down regardless of how well your DDoS solution is working.

Many DDoS providers will tell you these are not part of a DDoS strategy. I beg to differ.

Finding the Right DDoS Solution

DDoS protection was born out of the need to improve availability and guarantee performance.  Today, this is critical. We have become an application-driven world where digital interactions dominate. A bad experience using an app is worse for customer satisfaction and loyalty than an outage.  Most companies are moving into shared infrastructure environments—otherwise known as the “cloud”— where the performance of the underlying infrastructure is no longer controlled by the end user.

  1. Data center or host infrastructure rerouting capabilities gives organizations the ability to reroute traffic to secondary data centers or application servers if there is a performance problem caused by something that the traditional DDoS prevention solution cannot negate. This may or may not be caused by a traditional DDoS attack, but either way, it’s important to understand how to mitigate the risk from a denial of service caused by infrastructure failure.
  2. Simple-to-use link or host availability solutions offer a unified interface for conducting WAN failover in the event that the upstream provider is compromised. Companies can use BGP, but BGP is complex and rigid. The future needs to be simple and flexible.
  3. Infrastructure and application performance optimization is critical. If we can limit the amount of compute-per-application transactions, we can reduce the likelihood that a capacity problem with the underlying architecture can cause an outage. Instead of thinking about just avoiding performance degradation, what if we actually improve the performance SLA while also limiting risk? It’s similar to making the decision to invest your money as opposed to burying it in the ground.

Today you can look at buying separate products to accomplish these needs but you are then left with an age old problem: a disparate collection of poorly integrated best-of-breed solutions that don’t work well together.

These products should work together as part of a holistic solution where each solution can compensate and enhance the performance of the other and ultimately help improve and ensure application availability, performance and reliability. The goal should be to create a resilient architecture to prevent or limit the impact of DoS and DDoS attacks of any kind.

Source: https://securityboulevard.com/2018/09/ddos-protection-is-the-foundation-for-application-site-and-data-availability/

Aatish Pattni, regional director, UK & Ireland, Link11, explores in Information Age how DDoS attacks have grown in size and sophistication over the last two decades.

What is the biggest cyber-threat to your company? In April 2018, the UK’s National Crime Agency answered that question by naming DDoS attacks as the joint leading threat facing businesses, alongside ransomware. The NCA noted the sharp increase in DDoS attacks on a range of organisations during 2017 and into 2018, and advised organisations to take immediate steps to protect themselves against the potential attacks.

It’s no surprise that DDoS is seen as such a significant business risk. Every industry sector is now reliant on web connectivity and online services. No organisation can afford to have its systems offline or inaccessible for more than a few minutes: business partners and consumers expect seamless, 24/7 access to services, and being forced offline costs a company dearly. A Ponemon Institute study found that each DDoS incident costs $981,000 on average, including factors such as lost sales and productivity, the effect on customers and suppliers, the cost of restoring IT systems, and brand damage.

So how have DDoS attacks evolved from their early iterations as stunts used by attention-seeking teens, to one of the biggest threats to business? What techniques are attackers now using, and how can organisations defend themselves?

Early days of DDoS

The first major DDoS attack to gain international attention was early in 2000, launched by a 15-year-old from Canada who called himself Mafiaboy. His campaign effectively broke the internet, restricting access to the web’s most popular sites for a full week, including Yahoo!, Fifa.com, Amazon.com, eBay, CNN, Dell, and more.

DDoS continued to be primarily a tool for pranks and small-scale digital vandalism until 2007, when a range of Estonian banking, news, and national government websites were attacked. The attack sparked nationwide riots and is widely regarded as one of the world’s first nation-state acts of cyberwar.

The technique is also successful as a diversion tactic, to draw the attention of IT and security teams while a second attack is launched: another security incident accompanies up to 75% of DDoS attacks.

Denial of service has also been used as a method of protest by activist groups including Anonymous and others, to conduct targeted take-downs of websites and online services. Anonymous has even made its attacks tools freely available for anyone to use. Recent years have also seen the rise of DDoS-on-demand services such as Webstresser.org. Before being shut down by international police, Webstresser offered attack services for as little as £11, with no user expertise required – yet the attacks were powerful enough to disrupt operations at seven of the UK’s biggest banks.

Amplified and multi-vector attacks

In October 2016, a new method for distributing DoS attacks emerged – using a network of Internet of Things (IoT) devices to amplify attacks. The first of these, the Mirai botnet infected thousands of insecure IoT devices to power the largest DDoS attack witnessed at the time, with volumes over a Terabyte. By attacking Internet infrastructure company Dyn, Mirai brought down Reddit, Etsy, Spotify, CNN and the New York Times.

This was just a signpost showing how big attacks could become. In late February 2018, developer platform Github was hit with a 1.35 Tbps attack, and days later a new record was set with an attack volume exceeding 1.7 Tbps. These massive attacks were powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and self-learning algorithms which amplified their scale, giving them the ability to disrupt the operations of any organisation, of any size.

Attacks are not only getting bigger but are increasingly multi-vector. In Q4 2017, Link11 researchers noted that attackers are increasingly combining multiple DDoS attack techniques. Over 45% of attacks used 2 or more different techniques, and for the first time, researchers saw attacks which feature up to 12 vectors. These sophisticated attacks are difficult to defend against, and even low-volume attacks can cause problems, as happened in early 2018 when online services from several Dutch banks, financial and government services were brought to a standstill.

Staying ahead of next-generation AI-based attacks

As DDoS attacks now have such massive scale and complexity, traditional DDoS defences can no longer withstand them. Firewalls, special hardware appliances and intrusion detection systems are the main pillars of protection against DDoS, but these all have major limitations. Current attack volume levels can easily overload even high-capacity firewalls or appliances, consuming so many resources that that reliable operation is no longer possible.

Extortion by DDoS

The next iteration of attackers set out to use DDoS as an extortion tool, threatening organisations with an overwhelming attack unless they meet the attacker’s demand for cryptocurrency. Notable extortionists included the original Armada Collective, which targeted banks, web hosting providers, data centre operators as well as e-commerce and online marketing agencies in Greece and Central Europe.

Between January and March 2018, Link11’s Security Operation Centre recorded 14,736 DDoS attacks, an average of 160 attacks per day, with multiple attacks exceeding 100 Gbps. Malicious traffic at these high volumes can simply flood a company’s internet bandwidth, rendering on-premise network security solutions useless.

What’s needed is to deploy a cloud-native solution that can use AI to filter, analyse, and block web traffic if necessary before it even reaches a company’s IT systems. This can be done by routing the company’s Internet traffic via an external, cloud-based protection service. With this approach, incoming traffic is subject to granular analysis, with the various traffic types being digitally ‘fingerprinted’.

Each fingerprint consists of hundreds of properties, including browser data, user behaviour, and its origin. The solution builds up an index of both normal and abnormal, or malicious traffic fingerprints. When known attack patterns are detected in a traffic flow, the attack ‘client’ is blocked immediately and automatically in the cloud, before it even reaches customers’ networks – so that only clean; legitimate traffic reaches the organisation. However, regular traffic is still allowed, enabling a business to continue unaffected, without users being aware of the filtering process.

The solution’s self-learning AI algorithms also help to identify and block attacks for which there is no current fingerprint within a matter of seconds, to minimise the impact on the organisation’s website or web services. This means each new attack helps the system improve its detection capabilities, for the benefit of all users. Furthermore, this automated approach to blocking attacks frees up IT and security teams, enabling them to focus on more strategic work without being distracted by DDoS attempts.

In conclusion, DDoS attacks will continue to evolve and grow, simply because with DDoS-for-hire services and increasingly sophisticated methods, they are relatively easy and cheap to do – and they continue to be effective in targeting organisations. But by understanding how attacks are evolving and implementing the protective measures described here, organisations will be better placed to deny DDoS attackers.

Source: https://www.information-age.com/evolution-of-ddos-123473947/

There is a growing demand around the world for multifunctional malware that is not designed for specific purposes but is flexible enough to perform almost any task.

This was revealed by Kaspersky Lab researchers in a report on botnet activity in the first half of 2018. The research analysed more than 150 malware families and their modifications circulating through 600 000 botnets around the world.

Botnets are large ‘nets’ of compromised machines that are used by cybercriminals to carry out nefarious activities, including DDoS attacks, spreading malware or sending spam. Kaspersky botnet activity on an ongoing basis to prevent forthcoming attacks or to stop a new type of Trojan before it spreads.

It does this by employing technology that emulates a compromised , trapping the commands received from threat actors that are using the botnets to distribute malware. Researchers gain valuable malware samples and statistics in the process.

Drop in single-purpose malware

The first half of 2018 also saw the number of single-purpose pieces of malware distributed through botnets dropping significantly in comparison to the second half of 2017. In H2 2017, 22.46% of all unique malware strands were banking Trojans. This number dropped to 13.25% in the first half of this year.

Moreover, the number of spamming bots, another type of single-purpose malware distributed through botnets, decreased dramatically, from 18.93% in the second half of 2017 to 12.23% in the first half 2018. DDoS bots, yet another typical single-purpose malware, also dropped, from 2.66% to 1.99%, in the same period.

The only type of single-purpose malicious programs to demonstrate notable growth within botnet networks were miners. Even though their percentage of registered files is not comparable to highly popular multifunctional malware, their share increased two-fold and this fits in the general trend of a malicious mining boom, as noted in previous reports.

There’s a RAT in my PC

Alongside these findings, the company noted distinctive growth in malware that is more versatile, in particular Remote Access Tools (RATs) that give cyber crooks almost unlimited opportunities for exploiting infected machines.

Since H1 2017, the share of RAT files found among the malware distributed by botnets almost doubled, rising from 6.55% to 12.22%, with the Njrat, DarkComet and Nanocore varieties topping the list of the most widespread RATs.

“Due to their relatively simple structure, the three backdoors can be modified even by an amateur threat actor. This allows the malware to be adapted for distribution in a specific region,” the researchers said.

Trojans, which can also be employed for a range of purposes, did not grow as much as RATs, but unlike a lot of single-purpose malware, still increased 32.89% in H2 2017 to 34.25% in H1 2018. In a similar manner to RATs, Trojans can be modified and controlled by multiple command and control servers, for a range of nefarious activities, including cyberespionage or the theft of personal information.

Bot economy

Alexander Eremin, a security expert at Kaspersky Lab, says the reason multipurpose malware is taking the lead when it comes to botnets is clear. “Botnet ownership costs a significant amount of money and, in order to make a profit, criminals must be able to use each and every opportunity to get money out of malware. A botnet built out of multipurpose malware can change its functions relatively quickly and shift from sending spam to DDoS or to the distribution of banking Trojans.”

In addition to switching between different ‘active’ malicious activities, it also opens an opportunity for a passive income, as the owner can simply rent out their botnet to other criminals, he added.

Source: https://www.itweb.co.za/content/LPwQ57lyaoPMNgkj