DDoS Attack Specialist Archive

André Stewart, president international at Corero Network Security, argues that the Serious Organised Crime Agency should have taken a recent DDoS attack more seriously…

The response by the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) to the distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack directed at its public website is somewhat disappointing for the nation’s leading anti-crime organisation. The agency’s statement that it does not consider investing in DDoS defence protection “a good use of taxpayers’ money” fails to take into account potentially serious security consequences. Further, it sends the wrong message to cyber criminals at a time when businesses and organisations in the United Kingdom and around the world operate under continuous threat of attack.

The attack against the SOCA website used a network-layer DDoS attack which is a very publicly visible form of cyber crime. The attackers’ intent is to slow or bring down a website for the entire world to see. The victim organisation has to own up to what has happened and, in the case of government entities, explain why it will not or cannot respond effectively.

However, hacktivist groups and criminals frequently use DDoS attacks as a smokescreen to hide more surreptitious intrusions aimed at stealing data. For example, the theft of 77 million customer records from the Sony PlayStation Network was preceded by a severe DDoS attack. In discussing its 2012 Data Breach Investigations Report, Verizon’s Bryan Sartin said that diversionary DDoS attacks are common practice to mask data theft, including many of the breaches by hacktivists which totalled some 100 million stolen records.

This raises the question about SOCA’s approach to securing its networks and the protection of critical information from more sinister, stealth cyber attacks. Criminals want to create diversions and remain unnoticed while they infiltrate deeper into a network and steal data. Most data breaches go undetected for weeks, months, even years in some cases. Can we be confident, based on SOCA’s response to its public website being hit for the second time in less than a year, that it is addressing more critical security risks? The response to the latest incident could undermine confidence in the quality of the agency’s security program. How deep does its estimable high regard for taxpayer money go?

Just last June, the LulzSec group claimed credit for taking SOCA offline with a DDoS attack. One has to wonder if SOCA is truly dismissive of these attacks or simply has been slow to address the issue. Whilst the agency is dismissive of the latest DDoS attack its inability to protect itself nearly a year after the first public attack plants a seed of doubt about the calibre of its security program.

Perhaps most concerning is that SOCA is conceding the initiative to criminals who are attacking the agency directly. Would the police stand by, for example, while some hooligan scrawled graffiti on a local station with the explanation that they had more important things on which to spend time and money? Would the public tolerate that response?

Whilst putting its foot down on spending public funds is commendable, failing to respond to a direct criminal attack on law enforcement’s public face seems an odd place for SOCA to draw a line in the sand.

Source: http://www.publicservice.co.uk/feature_story.asp?id=19768

By: Jeremy Nicholls

The internet is an ideal destination for like-minded people to come together.

This is as true for people who are reaching out to friends, colleagues and strangers to raise money for charity as it is for groups of individuals who plan to use cyber attacks to make political or ideological statements.

It is the latter group, ‘hacktivists’ as they have come to be called, who are having a profound impact on today’s security threat landscape.

Research from Arbor Networks’ annual Worldwide Infrastructure Security Report (a survey of the internet operational security community published in February) supports this. Ideologically motivated hacktivism and vandalism were cited by a staggering 66 per cent of respondents as a motivating factor behind distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on their businesses.

One of these attacks last month targeted the BBC – the attack took down email and other internet-based services and the BBC suspected the attack was launched by Iran’s cyber army in a bid to disrupt BBC Persian TV. Then there was the takedown of the Home Office website with the promise of a series of weekly attacks against the Government.

But it’s not just high-profile, politically connected organisations at risk. Any enterprise operating online, which applies to just about any type and size of business operating in the UK, can become a target because of who they are, what they sell, who they partner with or for any other real or perceived affiliations. Nobody is immune.

An influx of new attack tools entering the market are readily available and fast to download. This video demonstrates how many tools are available today to anyone with a grievance and an internet connection; furthermore, the underground economy for botnets is booming.

Botnets ‘for hire’ are popular – unskilled attackers are able to hire botnet services for bargain-basement prices. Just as an enterprise can subscribe to a technology provider or a cloud-based DDoS mitigation service, hacktivists can subscribe to a DDoS service to launch attacks.

While hacktivism has gained tremendous press attention recently, there is evidence of DDoS attacks being used for competitive gain. For example, the Russian security service FSB arrested the CEO of ChronoPay, the country’s largest processor of online payments, for allegedly hiring a hacker to attack his company’s rivals. He was charged with a DDoS attack on rival Assist that paralysed the ticket-selling system on the Aeroflot website.

This all has overwhelming implications for the threat landscape, risk profile, network architecture and security deployments for all service providers and enterprises.

With the democratisation of DDoS has come a change in the attacks themselves. The methods hackers use to carry out DDoS attacks have evolved from the traditional high-bandwidth/volumetric attacks to stealth-like application-layer attacks and state attacks on firewalls and IPS, with a combination of any or all three being used in some cases.

Multi-vector attacks are becoming more common. A high-profile attack on Sony in 2011 had the company blinded of security breaches that compromised user accounts on the PlayStation Network, Qriocity and Sony Online Entertainment, because it was distracted by DDoS attacks.

Whether used for the sole purpose of shutting down a network or as a means of distraction to obtain sensitive data, DDoS attacks continue to become more complex and sophisticated. While some DDoS attacks have reached levels of 100Gbps, low-bandwidth, application-layer attacks have become more prominent as attackers exploit the difficulties in detecting these ‘low-and-slow’ attacks before they impact services.

Of the respondents surveyed in Arbor’s report, 40 per cent reported an inline firewall and/or IPS failure due to a DDoS attack, and 43 per cent reported a load-balancer failure.

While these products have a place and are an important part of an organisation’s overall IT security portfolio, they are not designed to protect availability. To ensure the best possible protection, organisations should adopt a multi-layered approach – combining a purpose-built, on-premise device with an in-cloud service.

DDoS mitigation is not a short-term fix. At Arbor Networks, we believe that this is something that should sit within a company’s overall risk-planning considerations. Just as physical security can be impacted by fire or extreme weather, digital security includes evaluating threats to availability, namely DDoS attacks.

It is becoming increasingly important to develop a plan to identify and stop them before they impact services, just as you would with natural disasters such as earthquakes or floods.

It is time for companies to start considering DDoS in their business-continuity planning. If they don’t, and they are targeted, the resulting chaos and lack of tools extends the outage and increases the costs both from an immediate financial perspective, and in terms of longer-term brand damage.

 

Source: http://www.scmagazineuk.com/the-changing-face-and-growing-threat-of-ddos/article/241020/

By David Meyer , 9 May, 2012 09:11

Hackers associated with Anonymous forced Virgin Media’s website offline for at least an hour on Tuesday, but the file-sharing service whose blockage sparked the protest has condemned the attack.

In an operation dubbed OpTPB, Anonymous hackers apparently subjected Virgin’s site to a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack that began at 5pm. Twitter messages referring to OpTPB suggested that it was a response to Virgin Media’s blocking of The Pirate Bay (TPB), which began last week after a court ordered it.

Although Virgin admitted to an hour-long downtime, the site was still not working at the time of writing, around 16 hours after the attack began.

“DDoS and blocks are both forms of censorship,” The Pirate Bay told followers on its Facebook page, referring to “some random Anonymous groups [having] run a DDoS campaign against Virgin Media and some other sites”.

“We’d like to be clear about our view on this: We do NOT encourage these actions,” TPB said. “We believe in the open and free internets, where anyone can express their views. Even if we strongly disagree with them and even if they hate us. So don’t fight them using their ugly methods.”

The file-sharing service went on to suggest that those wanting to help it could set up a tracker, join or start a local Pirate Party, write to their political representatives or develop a new P2P protocol.

According to the BBC, Virgin said in a statement that it has to comply with court orders, but believes that “tackling the issue of copyright infringement needs compelling legal alternatives, giving consumers access to great content at the right price, to help change consumer behaviour”.

“Copyright defenders, including the British recorded music industry body BPI, have argued that illegal copies of films, books and music made available on file-sharing sites destroy creative industry jobs and discourage investment in new talent,” the ISP added.

The court order followed a ruling in February which established that TPB was infringing on copyright by providing a service that people use to unlawfully share copyrighted material.

TPB was not itself represented at the hearing that led to that ruling, but the judge, Mr Justice Arnold, argued that there was little point in trying to get the site’s proprietors into court when even the authorities in Sweden, TPB’s home country, had failed to do so.

Virgin Media was the first ISP to carry out the block ordered last week, but others covered by the same court order include Sky, Everything Everywhere, TalkTalk and O2. BT is not yet subject to the order as it has requested more time to assess the implications.

Source: http://www.zdnet.co.uk/blogs/communication-breakdown-10000030/pirate-bay-condemns-virgin-media-hack-10026118/

TrustSphere says its TrustVault product helps crucial emails get through–even in the midst of a denial of service attack–by correctly identifying trusted senders.

As annoying as spam is, an overactive spam filter is almost worse when it prevents important messages from getting through.

A company called TrustSphere says the TrustVault product it introduced this week can act as a counterweight to the spam filter, using a type of “social graph” to identify trusted senders and allow their messages to get through–even in the midst of a crisis such as a distributed denial of service attack on an executive’s email account.

“Inside the the organization, we’re effectively mapping who’s speaking to whom and turning that into an enterprise social graph,” Manish Goel, CEO of TrustSphere, said in an interview. “We’re tracking who’s speaking with whom and how often–what’s the cadence of communication.” In that way, TrustVault can identify the trustworthy senders and allow their messages to go through, even if they would otherwise be blocked by a spam filter.

So far, this social graph is based entirely on the exchange of email, although TrustSphere is working on ways of integrating social media and voice over Internet protocol communications for a more complete picture, Goel said. But TrustSphere is applying elements of social networking theory such as Dunbar’s number, anthropologist Robin Dunbar’s concept that humans can only track a limited number of relationships, often theorized as about 150, and rely on “circles of trust” for more extended relationships. In this way, TrustSphere models trustworthy connections at the organizational level, as well as at the individual level. TrustVault is also linked to a related service, TrustCloud, which tracks the reputation of email accounts across the Internet.

TrustSphere doesn’t filter the content of the messages at all, looking only at the pattern of communication and touching only the email header fields, Goel said. The service does detect email authentication methods, such as the use of Sender Policy Framework tagging, but it’s counted as an indicator of trustworthiness rather than a final verdict, he said.

Messages cleared by TrustVault can still go through anti-virus and spyware scans, and even previously trusted senders can be screened out if they start exhibiting suspicious behavior, Goel said. But sometimes letting the right messages through can be as important as keeping the wrong ones out. For example, corporations targeted by activists or hactivists sometimes have the email accounts of top executives rendered useless when they are flooded by messages sent by angry consumers or generated by bots. With TrustVault, the messages from known senders could be delivered to the executive being targeted, while all the rest would be routed for review by an administrative assistant.

One of the company’s oldest customers, the doctors.net.uk social network for physicians in the U.K., has been using a version of the same technology to allow email that uses words like “Viagra” or “penis” to get past spam filters when those words are used in a legitimate medical context, rather than for spam or pornographic promotions, Goel said.

“This also allows you to turn up the threshold on the aggressiveness of your spam filters without missing messages,” Goel said. “I liken this to why cars have brakes–to allow you to go faster. Spam filtering is very much focused on identifying the bad guys. We’re using the good and the bad to improve the overall security infrastructure.”

Founded in Singapore, TrustSphere is just now bringing its product to the U.S. market.

Source: http://www.informationweek.com/thebrainyard/news/email/232901586

User forum Whirlpool was hit by a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack last night, according to the site’s hosting provider BulletProof Networks.

Although BulletProof Networks chief operating officer (COO) Lorenzo Modesto first said that Whirlpool was the only one of its customers to be affected by the attack, he said later that its public and private managed cloud customers were experiencing intermittent degraded network performance also.

“BulletProof customers have been kept in the loop throughout (per our standard procedures),” Modesto said.

Modesto added that BulletProof had discussed the issue with Whirlpool, resulting in the site being offline last night while the provider gathered more information. The site is back online this morning.

“We made the decision to bring Whirlpool back online in the early hours of this morning through one of our international [content distribution network points of presence] that are usually used to deliver local high-speed content to the offshore users of customers like Movember,” Modesto said.

“We’re continuing the forensics just in case they’re needed and are keeping an eye Whirlpool,” he added.

The attack had come from servers in the US and Korea, according to BulletProof.

“We’ve also been able to record server addresses and other relevant details and have escalated the source servers to the relevant providers in Korea and the US,” he said. “If we need to, we’ll pass all details onto the [Australian Federal Police] with whom we’ve built a good relationship, but we’ll see how this pans out for the moment.”.

This has not been the first DDoS attack to hit the popular site. Last June it experienced ten hours of downtime from a DDoS attack.

BulletProof Networks had also collected internet protocol addresses from that attack, but decided not to prosecute as a “sign of good will”, saying that DDoS was recognised more as a protest than a crime.

However, not all DDoS perpetrators have received the same treatment in the past. Recently Steven Slayo, who was part of the anonymous band which launched attacks against government sites last year over the government’s planned mandatory internet service provider level internet filter was taken to court over his actions.

He pleaded guilty, but escaped criminal conviction because the magistrate deemed him an “intelligent and gifted student whose future would be damaged by a criminal record”.

Source: http://www.zdnet.com.au/whirlpool-hit-by-ddos-attack-339308730.htm