itb-au logo
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.

Story image
Sophos named mobile security Leader in IDC MarketScape
Sophos Intercept X for Mobile has capabilities in protecting Android, iOS and Chrome OS users from known and never before seen mobile threats.More
Story image
Talend aims to make enterprise data more trustworthy
Talend Trust Score is a tool that enables users to assess the reliability of their data.More
Story image
Intelligent Automation – accelerate today and automate for tomorrow
It’s a message that encapsulates the benefits of productivity and innovation, by letting technology take care of menial tasks and giving valuable time back to every business.More
Story image
UNESCO completes major progress on establishing foundation of ethics for AI
"We need a robust base of ethical principles to ensure artificial intelligence serves the common good. We have made this process be as inclusive as possible since the stakes involved as universal, she explained.” More
Link image
<span class="coloured">Unleash the intelligent way to automate at Pega Discover – Intelligent Automation</span>
Find out how the world’s largest brands are accelerating business and simplifying systems in this two-hour, interactive virtual event. By the end you’ll be primed to start getting business done smarter and faster while scaling toward your biggest business goals. Register Now.More
Story image
IDC unveils Digital Transformation Awards A/NZ finalists
The awards recognise the achievements of organisations that have successfully digitised one or multiple areas of their business through the application of digital and disruptive technologies.More