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New Mirai Variant Hijacks Enterprise Linux Servers for DDoS Attacks
Researchers at Netscout have discovered a new variant of Mirai – a malicious software (malware) once known for hijacking hundreds of thousands of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, including wireless cameras, routers and digital video recorders, to conduct powerful distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.
Instead of infecting IoT devices, researchers at Netscoutsaid that the new Mirai variant infects non-IoT devices, in particular, enterprise Linux servers running Apache Hadoop YARN, to serve as DDoS bots.
The original Mirai malware, at its peak, infected hundreds of thousands of IoT devices, controlling these infected IoT devices as botnet to conduct high-impact DDoS attacks. Botnet refers to a group of computers controlled by attackers without the knowledge and consent of the owners to conduct malicious activities, including DDoS attacks. In a DDoS attack, the botnet or controlled computers act in unison, flooding the internet connection of a target, for instance, a particular website.
The original Mirai first came to public attention when it launched a DDoS attack against the website of journalist Brian Krebson September 20, 2016. A few days after, on September 30, the source code of Mirai was publicly released on the English-language hacking community Hackforums by a user using the screen name “Anna-senpai”.
Paras Jha, 22, the person behind Anna-senpai, pleaded guilty for co-creating Mirai. According to the U. S. Department of Justice, from December 2016 to February 2017, Jha along with his 2 college-age friends Josiah White and Dalton Norman, admitted that they successfully infected more than 100,000 IoT devices, such as home internet routers, with Mirai malware and used the hijacked IoT devices to form a powerful DDoS botnet.
Since the public release of the source code of Mirai, a number of Mirai variants have been created and released into the wild. According to Netscout researchers, this latest Mirai variant “is the first time we’ve seen non-IoT Mirai in the wild”.
How the Latest Mirai Variant Works?
To deliver the latest Mirai variant, attackers exploit the security vulnerability of Apache Hadoop YARN.
Apache Hadoop is an open source software framework that enables a cluster or group of computers to communicate and work together to store and process large amounts of data in a highly distributed manner. Meanwhile, YARN, which stands for Yet Another Resource Negotiator, is a key feature of Hadoop that helps in job scheduling of various applications and resource management in the cluster.
According to Netscout researchers, the latest Mirai malware will exploit unpatched Linux servers running on Apache Hadoop YARN, and will attempt to brute-force – attacks that systematically attempt to guess the correct username and password combination – the factory default username and password of the Hadoop YARN server.
DemonBot Vs. Latest Mirai Variant
Researchers at Radwaredetected last month another malware called “DemonBot” that infects Hadoop clusters by leveraging YARN’s unauthenticated remote command execution.
The main similarity between DemonBot and the latest Mirai variant is that both malware exploit the Hadoop YARN security vulnerability in order to infect computers. Both malware programs also turn infected computers as botnet for the purpose of launching DDoS attacks.
Enterprise Linux servers running Apache Hadoop YARN infected by DemonBot and the latest Mirai variant are dangerous as these servers account for large volumes of DDoS traffic.
The main difference between DemonBot and the latest Mirai variant is that DemonBot spreads only via central servers and doesn’t expose worm-like behavior exhibited by Mirai variants. Mirai’s worm-like behavior – its ability to spread itself within networks without user interaction – makes it a more dangerous malware than DemonBot.
According to Radware researchers, as of late October, this year, attackers attempted to exploit the Hadoop YARN vulnerability to deliver the DemonBot at an aggregated rate of over 1 million per day.
Original Mirai Vs. Latest Mirai Variant
According to Netscout researchers, the latest Mira variant behaves much like the original Mirai. This means that both have worm-like behavior and enslaves infected computers for the purpose of launching DDoS attacks.
The main difference between the original Mirai and the latest Mirai variant is that while the original Mirai runs on IoT devices, the latest Mirai variant runs on Linux servers, in particular, those running Apache Hadoop YARN.
“Linux servers in datacenters have access to more bandwidth than IoT devices on residential networks, making them much more efficient DDoS bots,” researchers at Netscout said. ”A handful of well-resourced Linux servers can generate attacks that compete with a much larger IoT botnet.”
According to Netscout researchers, there are tens of thousands of attempts per day to exploit the Hadoop YARN vulnerability to deliver the latest Mirai variant.
The risk of further cyberattacks is high for machines infected by malware like Mirai. To prevent attackers from hijacking your organization’s Linux servers running Apache Hadoop YARN for DDoS attacks, make sure to configure your YARN’s access control by using strong username and password combination.
Also, keep all your organization’s software up-to-date and prevent brute-force attacks by implementing an account lockout policy. For instance, after a certain number of failed login attempts, the account is locked out until an administrator unlocks it.
By leveraging the security vulnerability in enterprise Linux servers running Apache Hadoop YARN, attackers can generate much powerful DDoS attacks. Protect your organization’s online resources like websites from DDoS attacks by using an easy to use, cost-effective and comprehensive DDoS protection.
Contact us today if you need assistance in protecting your organization’s network from malware like Mirai and protecting your organization’s online resources from DDoS attacks.
New Botnet Launches DDoS Attacks from Linux Computers
Researchers at SophosLabs have discovered a new botnet that launches a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack from compromised Linux servers and IoT devices.
What is a DDoS Botnet?
A botnet is a collection of computers compromised by a malicious software (malware) and controlled as a group without the owners' knowledge to conduct illegal activities, including DDoS attacks.
In a DDoS attack, hijacked or compromised computers are controlled as a group to attack a particular target, for instance, to overwhelm a particular website with traffic to render the site inaccessible to legitimate users. By leveraging the use of a botnet, attackers can carry out large-scale DDoS attacks.
DDoS attacks don’t just target websites. They also target servers (web, email, DNS, file), web apps, banking, trading and e-commerce platforms, and VoIP systems.
Latest DDoS Botnet
SophosLabs researchers called the latest DDoS botnet that they’ve discovered “Chalubo”. The researchers said they first observed Chalubo in the wild in late August this year. On the 6th of September 2018, SophosLabs researchers said they first recorded how Chalubo works via a honeypot, a decoy computer system used in tracking new hacking methods.
According to the researchers, Chalubo attacks SSH servers, a software program used to remotely access Linux operating systems. There are currently a variety of Chalubo botnet versions for different processor architectures, including both 32- and 64-bit ARM, x86, x86_64, MIPS, MIPSEL and PowerPC.
Chalubo attackers gain access to a computer by using publicly known default and common username and password combinations. Once the attackers gain access to a computer, it issues commands that retrieve the Elknot, also known as Linux/BillGates malware, a notorious DDoS botnet family that runs on both Linux and Windows operating systems. Elknot, in turn, delivers the rest of the Chalubo botnet package.
This recently reported DDoS botnet incorporates the code of two other notorious DDoS botnets, the Mirai botnet and Xor.DDoS botnet.
In December last year, 3 college-age friends pleaded guilty for creating the Mirai botnet. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the Mirai botnet, at its peak, consisted of hundreds of thousands of compromised IoT devices used to launch DDoS attacks.
Xor.DDoS botnet, meanwhile, was first observed in the wild in 2015. This botnet hijacks Linux computers for DDoS attacks. While Mirai uses 62 default username and password combinations to gain access to a computer or device, Xor.DDoS uses common or weak username and password combinations.
Chalubo, in particular, uses some of Mirai’s randomizing functions and what appears to be an extended form of the util_local_addr function. Chalubo also uses Xor.DDoS’ DelService & AddService functions, as well as Chalubo’s script gets dropped exactly in the same manner as Xor.DDoS. While Chalubo copies a few code snippets of Mirai and Xor.DDoS, it’s a different botnet taken as a whole, researchers at SophosLabs said.
“The majority of functional code in this bot is entirely new, with a focus on their own Lua handling for, primarily, performing DoS attacks with DNS, UDP, and SYN flavours,” SophosLabs researchers said. “The Lua script built into the bot is a basic control script for calling home to a C2 [command-and-control] server to inform the C2 about details of the infected machine.”
Chalubo’s Lua script communicates with the command-and-control server – a computer that’s controlled by attackers – to receive further instructions. The purpose of the script is to download, decrypt and then execute whatever the script finds.
Chalubo's main components, dropper (the Elknot), main bot and Lua script, are encrypted using the ChaCha stream cipher in an effort to prevent detection. SophosLabs researchers observed that Chalubo triggered the infected computer to conduct a DDoS attack against a single Chinese IP address over port 10100, without masking the local source IP.
According to SophosLabs researchers, the creator or creators of Chalubo botnet may be at the end of testing their botnet and we may see an increase in activity from this new botnet.
A DDoS botnet negatively impacts the hijacked computers. In a similar manner, a DDoS attack negatively impacts a target.
Here are a few signs that the computer in your organization may be a part of a botnet:
-Computer fan kicks into overdrive even when it’s idle
-It takes a long time to shut down the computer or it won’t shut down properly
-Computer programs and internet access are slow
Here are some security measures to prevent attackers from turning the computers in your organization as part of the Chalubo, Mirai or Xor.DDoS botnets:
-Change default and common username and password combinations as these botnets hunt computers using default and common or weak username and password combinations
-In the case of the Chalubo botnet, use SSH keys instead of passwords for logins
-Keep all your software up-to-date
On the part of the DDoS botnet target, a successful DDoS attack against a website, server, e-commerce platform or VoIP system negatively impacts the target’s reputation and damages existing client relationships.
DDoS botnets can be prevented from attacking online resources by regularly monitoring traffic and by conducting a DDoS testing – called in the cybersecurity field as penetration or pen testing.
By monitoring the traffic of your organization’s online resources, abnormal and suspicious traffic can be flagged early on. In DDoS testing, simulated DDoS attacks are conducted against the online resources of your organization to check if they can withstand real DDoS attacks.
Contact ustoday if you need assistance in preventing attackers from hijacking your organization’s computers as part of a DDoS botnet or if you want assistance in protecting your organization’s online resources from DDoS attacks.
Most Universities at Risk of DDoS Attacks
The recent distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on the online services of the Scotland-based University of Edinburgh adds to the growing list of universities hit by DDoS attacks.
Last September 10th, University of Edinburgh’s online services, including wireless services, websites and many online student services were disrupted for several hours as a result of a DDoS attack. The attack was done during the busy “Welcome Week” period of the university.
“I apologise for the disruption to this service, particularly during the busy Welcome Week period,” Gavin Ian McLachlan Chief Information Officer at the University of Edinburgh, said in a statement. “I realise how frustrating this must have been.”
DDoS Attacks on Colleges and Universities: Who, When and Why
A recent study conducted by Jisc provides a picture of who may be launching these DDoS attacks, in particular, on UK’s colleges and universities based on the specific time these attacks were done.
Jisc is a UK not-for-profit company that offers internet service via the Janet Networkto UK research and education community, including the University of Edinburgh.
Jisc said, “there is evidence both circumstantial and from the justice system to suggest that students and staff may well be responsible for many of the DDoS attacks we see on the Janet Network.”
The Jisc study found that DDoS attacks on colleges and universities were usually done during school period and attacks dramatically decrease during holiday times, such as summer breaks, Christmas, Easter and May half term breaks.
“This pattern could indicate that attackers are students or staff, or others familiar with the academic cycle,” Jisc said. “Or perhaps the bad guys simply take holidays at the same time as the education sector. Whichever the case, there’s no point sending a DDoS attack to an organization if there’s no one there to suffer the consequences.”
Several students had been prosecuted in the past for attacking their colleges or universities. Adam Mudd, a student at West Herts College, pleaded guilty for launching DDoS attacks against his college; while Paras Jha, a student at Rutgers University, pleaded guilty for launching DDoS attacks against his university.
These college and university students don’t just target their own schools. In April 2017, Adam Mudd received a 2-year jail sentence for running “Titanium Stresser”, a DDoS-for-hire service that launched 1.7 million DDoS attacks against victims worldwide.
In December 2017, Jha with two college-age friends, pleaded guilty for creating the Mirai botnet – referring to the hundreds of thousands of IoT devices compromised by Jha’s group using 62 common default login details and using them as a botnet or zombie army to conduct a number of powerful DDoS attacks.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Jha’s involvement with the Mirai botnet ended when he posted the source code for Mirai on a criminal forum in the fall of 2016. In October 2016, internet infrastructure company Dyn became a target of DDoS attacks, which resulted in bringing down a big chunk of the internet on the U.S. east coast. The DDoS attacks against Dyn temporarily took offline major websites, such as Amazon, Twitter and Netflix. “We are able to confirm that a significant volume of attack traffic originated from Mirai-based botnets,” Dynsaid in a statement.
The Jisc study also showed a significant decrease of DDoS attacks on the Janet Network starting in April 2018. Jisc theorized that this reduction of DDoS attacks could be a result of the Operation Power Off, a coordinated operation conducted by the Dutch Police and the UK’s National Crime Agency with the support of Europol and a dozen law enforcement agencies from around the world.
Operation Power Off took down the DDoS marketplace webstresser.org and resulted in the arrests of the site’s administrators located in the UK, Croatia, Serbia and Canada.
According to the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol), webstresser.org was the world’s biggest marketplace to hire DDoS services, with 4 million recorded attacks as of April 2018.
For as low as EUR 15 a month, individuals with little to no technical knowledge launched crippling DDoS attacks via webstresser.org, the Europol reported.
Jisc said that beyond disgruntled college and university students and staff, there are far more serious criminal players at work that these institutions ignore at their peril.
Jisc added that some of these more sophisticated DDoS attacks are designed, not just to bring down an online service offline but also to steal intellectual property, targeting valuable and sensitive and information held at these educational institutions.
Preparing for DDoS Attacks
Here are some security measures that can fortify your organization’s IT defenses in case a disgruntled student, a staff or other criminal elements decide to launch a DDoS attack against your organization:
Look for abnormal incoming traffic, including sudden traffic rise and visits from suspicious IP addresses and geolocations. These could all be indicators that criminal elements are testing your organization’s IT defenses prior to conducting a crippling DDoS attack or attacks.
Consider conducting your very own DDoS attack against your organization’s IT infrastructure. This simulated cyberattack, known in the cybersecurity community as pen testing, can prepare your organization when the real DDoS attacks happen.
Contact us today if you need assistance in protecting your organization against DDoS attacks.
Mirai Is Evolving as a DDoS Attack Tool
Mirai, the malware that nearly brought down the internet, is evolving and being refined by cybercriminals as a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack tool.
Symantec's Principal Threat Analysis Engineer Dinesh Venkatesan recently disclosed that he uncovered multiple Mirai variants. Venkatesan said that these multiple Mirai variants are hosted in a live remote server.
Each of these Mirai variants is described to be aimed for a particular platform, making the Mirai portable across different platforms.
According to Venkatesan, one of the major obstacles encountered by script-kiddies, also known as copy/paste malware authors, is portability – the ability of a malware to run on different platforms “in a self-contained capsule without any runtime surprises or misconfiguration”.
The newly uncovered Mirai variants found an answer to the problem of portability by leveraging on the open source tool called “Aboriginal Linux”. According to the author of Aboriginal Linux, this open source tool "automatically create cross compilers and bootable system images for various targets, such as arm, mips, powerpc, and x86".
Using the Aboriginal Linux, the author or authors of the newly uncovered Mirai variants were able to develop versions of the malware tailored for a targeted platform, ranging from routers, IP cameras and even Android devices.
Symantec's Venkatesan said that the newly uncovered Mirai variants spread by scanning devices with default factory login details or known security vulnerabilities.
Original Mirai Botnet
In December last year, 21-year old Paras Jha, along with his two college-age friends Josiah White and Dalton Norman, pleaded guilty for creating the Mirai botnet.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, in the summer and fall of 2016, Jha, White and Norman created and launched the Mirai botnet – referring to computers infected by the Mirai malware and controlled by Jha’s group without the knowledge or permission of the owners of the computers.
The U.S. Department of Justice said the trio used the Mirai botnet, which at its peak consisted of hundreds of thousands of compromised IoT devices, to launch DDoS attacks.
DDoS attacks refer to cyberattacks which use multiple computers (like the Mirai botnet), controlling these computers without the computers’ owners knowledge for the purpose of making an online service unavailable by overwhelming it with traffic.
"The defendants [Jha, White and Norman] used the botnet to conduct a number of powerful distributed denial-of-service, or ‘DDOS’ attacks, which occur when multiple computers, acting in unison, flood the Internet connection of a targeted computer or computers,” the U.S. Department of Justice said.
While the latest Mirai variants infect not just IoT devices but also Android devices, the computers infected by the original Mirai malware were limited to IoT devices, including routers, wireless cameras, digital video and recorders.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the trio’s involvement with the original Mirai ended when Jha posted the source code of Mirai on an online forum in September 2016. “Since then, other criminal actors have used Mirai variants in a variety of other attacks,” the U.S. Department of Justice said.
Jha’s group was able to infect hundreds of thousands of IoT devices with the Mirai malware and turned it into a botnet or zombie army for DDoS attacks by using a short list of 62 common default usernames and passwords.
In October 2016, the DDoS attack against the internet infrastructure company Dynbrought down a big part of the internet on the U.S. east coast. The DDoS attack against Dyn made the world’s top websites, such as Amazon, Twitter and Netflix, temporarily inaccessible. “We are able to confirm that a significant volume of attack traffic originated from Mirai-based botnets,” Dyn said in a statement.
Other Mirai Variants
Early variants of Mirai include Satori, a Mirai variant that morphed into several versions as well. One version of Satori targets Huawei home router HG532. Satori was first observed in the wild by Check Pointresearchers in November 2017. Similar to the original Mirai, Satori has DDoS capabilities and has been reported to launch several DDoS attacks.
According to Check Point, Huawei was informed prior to the public disclosure of Satori. Before the public disclosure of Satori as well Huawei patched the vulnerability.
In May 2018, researchers at FortiGuard Labsuncovered another variant of Mirai called “Wicked”. This Mirai variant particularly infects Netgear routers and CCTV-DVR devices.
According to FortiGuard Labs, Wicked infects Netgear routers and CCTV-DVR devices by using known and available cyberexploits, many of them are old exploits. Similar to the original Mirai and other Mirai variants, Wicked can also be used for DDoS attacks.
Here are some measures in preventing attackers from turning your organization’s IoT devices into a zombie soldier for DDoS attacks:
-Change default login details into something strong and unique
-Install firmware updates in a timely manner
-When setting up Wi-Fi network access, use a strong encryption method
-Use wired connections instead of wireless connections
-Disable the following:
If your organization has an online presence, it's imperative that your organization is equipped in stopping DDoS attacks.
A successful DDoS attack against your organization’s online service negatively impacts your organization’s reputation, can cause loss of customer trust and financial losses. Prolong and unmitigated DDoS attacks can also result in permanent business closure.
Contact us today if you need assistance in securing your organization’s online services from DDoS attacks and if your organization needs assistance in securing IoT devices from being turned into zombie devices for DDoS attacks.
DDoS Attacks: Protecting Your Business from Critical Disruption
In March 2018, developer platform GitHub was struck by the most powerful DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attack ever recorded.
How big? 1.35 terabits of traffic was hitting GitHubeach second.
Still, GitHub was not without its defenses.
Within 10 minutes of the attack starting, GitHub’s DDoS mitigation service stepped in to combat it. They routed all incoming and outgoing traffic and scrubbed data, blocking all malicious packets responsible.
Such decisive action paid off. The attack ended eight minutes after the service took over, and GitHub was able to get back on track after just five minutes of downtime.
If GitHub had been without such a fast, effective response, the outcome of the attack might have been much worse.
A DDoS attack is a fairly cold-blooded attempt to disrupt a server, service or network’s standard operation by bombarding it with excessive traffic.
They incorporate a number of compromised computer systems to mount the attack, essentially overwhelming the target system and affecting genuine traffic.
GitHub had been targeted before, with an attack lasting for six days in 2015.
A company or organization’s website can be severely affected by a DDoS attack, potentially costing them lots of money in lost business. In fact, the average cost of a DDoS attack for businesses rose to more than $2.5 millionin 2017.
Research highlights just how common DDoS disruptions are for many companies. A staggering 849 of 1,010 enterprises questioned had been hit by a DDoS attack. DDoS disruption was estimated to cost target businesses as much as $100,000 per hour.
These figures make for disturbing reading, especially for smaller companies on a much tighter budget than their larger competitors. Still, even for global corporations, the risk of a DDoS attack can be incredibly troubling: after all, they may have more to lose.
Effective cybersecurity and preparation have never been more vital. Every cent available must be channeled into reinforcing your business against potential threats.
Still, this is easier said than done: cybercrime and security can be daunting. To help you understand how best to defend yourself against DDoS attacks, we have explored some of the most effective options below:
Get to know the symptoms
Recognizing the signs of an incoming DDoS attack can make a significant difference to how you handle it.
There is no real warning for a DDoS attack, though. While some hackers may issue threats, there will generally be nothing other than the assault itself.
As you might not browse your own website much on a day to day basis, it may not be until customers begin complaining about its performance than the warning bells start to sound.
However, certain other clues will tip you off:
The earlier you’re able to spot the warning signs, the sooner you can start to act.
Have a plan
Every business should have a plan in place for a potential DDoS attack. Once you confirm that your system has been targeted, you can jump to your plan and follow it. Being prepared helps to reduce the likelihood of panic or making mistakes that exacerbate the disruption.
Make sure all key players from each department are alerted to the situation and understand how best to handle it at their end. If everyone can work together and focus on damage limitation, you’re more likely to come out of the DDoS attack with minimal impact.
Companies that have no preparations for dealing with such a situation could waste valuable time trying to make sense of it.
Know how to prioritize
You will only have limited access to your system during a DDoS attack. Make sure you focus on keeping the most high-value services and applications running to preserve as much ‘normal’ function as possible.
Again, this comes down to planning. You should have an immediate idea which areas can be let go and which must be the priority.
Pay attention to your network security
Conducting security audits on your network on a regular basis is an effective way to keep your system protected.
Take a close look at the strength of passwords (particularly for the most vulnerable areas), review which employees have access to key data, and run comprehensive checks on software. Do you have the most up to date versions? Have any known security risks come to light with an application you’re using?
A network security audit may not be enough in itself to defend your business against a DDoS attack, but it can play a large part in the process. Incorporate this into ongoing workplace routines: make sure it becomes a habit and is never overlooked.
Letting your system go without the proper audits and preparations can leave it vulnerable to attack. Being complacent and assuming your business will escape the attention of cybercriminals is never a smart move.
Turn to the professionals
Your system security is paramount to keeping your business up and running. Not only does your entire flow of service depend on effective protection, so too does your customers’ experience.
Lengthy downtime can leave buyers with little choice but to start looking elsewhere if you cannot meet their needs. On top of this, they may wonder how safe their personal and financial data are within your company.
Hiring a professional cybersecurity firmto defend your system against DDoS attacks can help to take the strain. You will be free to focus on other areas of running your business while the experts handle the heavy lifting.
Are you concerned about your company’s vulnerability to DDoS attacks? What steps have you taken to safeguard your system? Share your thoughts and ideas below and contact ustoday to protect your organization.
DDoS Attacks: Dangers and Ways to Protect your Network
DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks continue to make headlines. In the past week, one such act caused severe traffic issuesduring a key political debate in Mexico, affecting a website opposing presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
Elections are set to take place on 1 July, and the target domain has been openly critical of his policies. During the attack, 185,000 visits took place in just 15 minutes; the majority originated in China and Russia.
This was a blatant attempt to crash the site, and the culprits have yet to be identified. Doing so can be incredibly difficult, as the traffic originates from compromised systems that disrupt sites involuntarily.
This isn’t the first time DDoS attacks have disrupted political websites, and countries are taking action to defend themselves. The US Election Assistance Commission has dedicated over $380m in funding for cybersecurity.
DDoS attacks defined
As discussed above, DDoS attacks involve flooding the target website with traffic from numerous origin points, possibly numbering in the thousands. As a result, stopping the DDoS attack in its tracks is basically impossible; there’s no single IP address causing the issue, and blocking all traffic will be restricting access for legitimate visitors.
They’re different to DoS attacks, which involve just a single computer and IP address working in conjunction to flood a vulnerable system.
There are a few common types of DDoS attack, including traffic-based ones.
Bandwidth attacks are another danger, which overload the system with overwhelming loads of ‘junk’ data, disrupting network bandwidth. This can cause a total denial of service.
Application DDoS attacks use data messages to reduce the application layer’s resources and make the system unable to function as it should.
When a website is unable to provide its customers or members with the services they expect, it can damage their reputation and disrupt their revenue. There’s a risk to security too, with consumers left wondering how safe their personal data may be.
This is a major concern for today’s more tech-savvy users, who are much more aware of the dangers lax security measures and cyber-attacks pose.
Taking action against DDoS attacks
How can you protect your network against DDoS attacks and ensure your business or organization is prepared to handle one if the worst happens?
Minimize the potential
Minimizing the surface area that would be vulnerable to attacks is key, as it essentially reduces the number of options available to would-be DDoS attacks.
To do this, consider guarding resources with Load Balancers or Content Distribution Networks. You can also place restrictions on traffic reaching vital parts of your system, such as your database servers, for further protection.
Create a plan of action
You need a plan for every major cybersecurity risk threatening your business and customers. With a DDoS plan, the key aspect is determining how you will keep delivering services if an attack manages to disrupt your system.
You should make sure everyone within your company is made aware of what a DDoS attack is, how it may manifest, and how their work would be affected.
The aim is to make sure your company as a whole would essentially be able to roll with the proverbial punches, to minimize the disruption and get back on track as soon as possible.
Get to know the signs
It’s best to learn the warning signs of an impending DDoS attack. While high-volume situations are common and can be damaging, low-volume ones may be triggered by troublemakers as a test of your network’s capabilities. These attacks allow cybercriminals / hackers to identify potential holes within your security.
Pay attention to your average traffic patterns. This may help you spot significant changes in geographic sources and volumes, enabling you to take preventative action before the attack is fully underway.
Capture the packet
When you start to notice a DDoS attack is in effect, you should try to spot the key characteristics in order to take action against it. DDoS attacks typically rely on forceful traffic volumes your system simply can’t handle, and while it may be impossible to sort the ‘good’ traffic from the ‘bad’, you can identify telltale similarities between sources.
Run a fast packet capture of the attack, and you should be able to find similarities fairly easily as the majority of traffic hitting your website will be part of the attack. Giveaway details might reveal themselves in the user agent or URI, but once you find a pattern you’ll be able to initiate a block via router ACL or firewall.
Routers and firewalls can stop specific IP addresses and filter unnecessary protocols, but they’re not a complete defense against high-volume attacks. Firewalls in particular should not be depended on to keep your entire network safe.
Again, having a plan in place and being prepared to shift gears is critical to minimize the disruption as much as possible.
DDoS attacks are, sadly, not going to go away any time soon. Your business or organization has to take steps necessary to stay as protected as possible and put a contingency plan in place to stop your infrastructure collapsing if an attack takes place.
Working with cybersecurity specialists and running a vulnerability assessment of your network can help you prepare. Want to know more about the options available to you?
Give our expert team a call!
Huawei IoT Exploit Code Meant for DDoS Attack Released to the Public
Another malware code that’s meant to cause distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) has recently been made public on Pastebin website.
The publication of the code of a DDoS threat can’t be taken lightly. Whenever new cyberexploits become publicly available, cybercriminals are quick to add these to their attack arsenal.
When the Mirai malware code – another DDoS threat was made public – it unleashed unprecedented DDoS attacks.
The newly published malware code is a Mirai variant and particularly targets the vulnerability in Huawei home router model HG532. According to security researchers at NewSky Security, the newly published malware has already been used in cyberattacks, including the Satori DDoS attack.
With the release of the full working code of this Mirai variant, security researchers at NewSky Security said that “we expect its usage in more cases by script kiddies and copy-paste botnet masters.”
Considering that Huawei retains a significant share of the router market, exploitation of these IoT devices can have a significant effect. According to IDC, Huawei's total router market share increased from 18.9% in the 2nd quarter of 2016 to 25.2% in the 2nd quarter of 2017.
What is Satori?
Satori is an updated variant of the Mirai malware. It particularly exploits the vulnerability in Huawei home router model HG532. The vulnerability allows remote code execution, enabling attackers to access and make changes to Huawei home routers found in different parts of the world.
Unlike the Mirai malware which relies on default usernames and passwords to infect IoT devices, Satori doesn’t need usernames and passwords. Security researchers at Qihoo 360 Netlab said, “The bot [Satori] itself now does NOT rely on loader/scanner mechanism to perform remote planting, instead, bot itself performs the scan activity. This worm like behavior is quite significant.”
According to the security researchers at Qihoo 360 Netlab, in December 2017, the Satori malware was able to infect over 280,000 Huawei routers in just 12 hours.
In November 2017, security researchers at Check Point reported that hundreds of thousands of Satori exploits have already been found in the wild. Check Point discreetly informed Huawei about the security vulnerability and soon thereafter the company issued a security update.
“An authenticated attacker could send malicious packets to port 37215 to launch attacks,” Huawei said in acknowledging the Satori exploit. “Successful exploit could lead to the remote execution of arbitrary code.”
What is Mirai?
Satori’s code is based on Mirai malware code. In late September 2016, the hacker simply known as “Anna-senpai” made public the Mirai code.
What the original Mirai does was used the internet to search for IoT devices (including wireless cameras and routers) with weak security – particularly those with default usernames and passwords, control these devices and use them to attack targets such as other computers and websites. According to Anna-senpai, 380,000 IoT devices were infected with the Mirai malware to stage a DDoS attack against the Krebs on Security website.
Barely a month after the Mirai was published online, the DDoS attacks against Dyn happened. Dyn is a domain name service (DNS) provider which many websites rely upon. The DDoS attacks against Dyn resulted in temporarily shutting down popular websites like Amazon, Twitter and Netflix.
“We are able to confirm that a significant volume of attack traffic originated from Mirai-based botnets,” Dyn said in a statement. According to the company, 100,000 IoT devices were infected with the Mirai malware to attack its infrastructure.
In early December last year, three men, Paras Jha, Josiah White and Dalton Norman, pleaded guilty in creating and operating the Mirai malware in violation of the US Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
“In the summer and fall of 2016, White, Jha, and Norman created a powerful botnet – a collection of computers infected with malicious software and controlled as a group without the knowledge or permission of the computers’ owners,” the US Department of Justice said in a statement.
The US Department of Justice added, “The defendants used the botnet to conduct a number of powerful distributed denial-of-service, or ‘DDOS’ attacks, which occur when multiple computers, acting in unison, flood the Internet connection of a targeted computer or computers.”
Jha, in particular, pleaded guilty in conducting a series of DDoS attacks against networks of Rutgers University from November 2014 to September 2016. The DDoS attack on Rutgers University, according to the Department of Defense, temporarily shut down the university’s central authentication server, which maintained the gateway portal through which students, faculty and staff deliver assignments and assessments.
According to the US Department of Justice, White, Jha and Norman’s involvement with the original Mirai ended in the fall of 2016, when Jha publicly released the source code of Mirai. The Justice Department said, “Since then, other criminal actors have used Mirai variants in a variety of other attacks.”
US Acting Assistant Attorney General Cronan said that the Mirai is a powerful reminder that “as we continue on a path of a more interconnected world, we must guard against the threats posed by cybercriminals that can quickly weaponize technological developments to cause vast and varied types of harm.”
Since the release of the Mirai code, there has also been a noticeable increase in DDoS-for-hire – a group of cybercriminals that provides paying customers with distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack service to anonymously attack any internet-connected target.
Imperva Incapsula reported that in the third quarter of 2017, majority or 90.2% of DDoS attacks were under 10 Mpps and were predominantly the result of DDoS-for-hire activity.
DDoS attacks are costly. They can make your organization’s website slow or inaccessible. They can disrupt business activities, prevent customers from accessing online accounts and bring about significant costs in remedying the DDoS effects.
Huawei recommends the following measures to circumvent or prevent your Huawei routers from being infected by Satori malware:
Contact us at The Driz Group if you want more information on how to protect your business from DDoS attacks in under an hour, with no hardware to buy, and no resources or ongoing maintenance.
DDoS Threat Landscape in 3rd Quarter of 2017
They're getting more powerful and persistent. This is how Imperva Incapsula described the global distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) threat landscape in the 3rd quarter of 2017.
In its Global DDoS Threat Landscape Q3 2017, Imperva Incapsula defined DDoS attack as a “persistent, distributed denial of service event” against a particular IP address or domain. Imperva Incapsula considers a DDoS attack as a single attack when it’s conducted at least 60 minutes, held prior to an attack-free period and followed by another attack-free period of the same duration or longer.
“In a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, an attacker may use your computer to attack another computer,” the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) defines DDoS attack. “By taking advantage of security vulnerabilities or weaknesses, an attacker could take control of your computer. He or she could then force your computer to send huge amounts of data to a website or send spam to particular email addresses. The attack is ‘distributed’ because the attacker is using multiple computers, including yours, to launch the denial-of-service attack.”
Imperva Incapsula identifies two types of DDoS attacks: network layer attack and application layer attack.
Network layer attack is defined as a DDoS attack that causes network saturation by consuming much of the available bandwidth. Attack under this type is measured in million packets per second (Mpps) and gigabits per second (Gbps) – referring to the amount of bandwidth it can consume per second.
Application layer attack, meanwhile, is defined as a DDoS attack for the purpose of bringing down a server by exhausting its processing resources – CPU or RAM – with a high number of requests. Attack under this type is measured in requests per second (RPS) – referring to the number of processing tasks initiated per second.
Network Layer DDoS Attacks
In terms of network layer attacks, 90.2% were under 10 Mpps, 4.8% between 10-50 Mpps, 2.1% between 50-100 Mpps and 2.9% above 100 Mpps. The largest network layer attack recorded last quarter reached 299 Gbps.
According to Imperva Incapsula, attacks under 10 Mpps were mostly the result of DDoS-for-hire activities.
On average, each network layer attack target suffered 17.7 attacks in the span of the quarter, while the most repeatedly attacked victim encountered 714 attacks in the span of the quarter.
Top Attacked Industries
The Imperva Incapsula report showed that online gambling is the number one industry targeted by network layer DDoS attackers (34.5%), followed by gaming (14.4%), internet services (10.8%), financials (10.1%), retail (5.8%), IT and software (5.8%), media and publishing (5.8%), cryptocurrency or bitcoin platforms (3.6%), transportation (2.2%) and telecom (1.4%).
The following reasons were put forward why over a third of the network layer DDoS attacks were targeted on gambling sites and related services:
The report also found that 3 out of 4 of bitcoin sites were attacked in the last quarter. The relatively high number of DDoS attacks on cryptocurrency exchanges and services observed in the 3rd quarter of 2017 was attributed to the recent staggering spike in the price of bitcoin, which more than doubled in the period of the quarter.
Top Attacked Countries
Hong Kong was the most targeted with 31% of the total global network layer DDoS attack, followed by the US (19%), Germany (12.8%), Philippines (7.6%), China (7.2%), Taiwan (7.1%), Singapore (4.4%), Malaysia (3.9%), Japan (0.8%) and Canada (0.8%).
Almost a third of the network layer DDoS attacks last quarter went to Hong Kong as a result of a large-scale campaign against a Hong Kong-based hosting service provider. Taiwan and the Philippines also made it to the top 10 list as a result of large campaigns targeting gambling websites in these countries.
Application Layer DDoS Attacks
In terms of application layer DDoS attacks, on average, each victim suffered 17.7 attacks in the span of the quarter, while the most repeatedly attacked victim encountered 714 attacks in the span of the quarter.
The US ranked as the most targeted country in terms of application layer DDoS attack (53.3%), followed by Netherlands (8.8%), Singapore (6.3%), Belgium (5%), Italy (4.4%), Germany (3.9%), Russia (3.1%), Japan (3.1%), Hong Kong (1.8%) and Australia (1.5%).
Imperva Incapsula’s global DDoS threat report for the 3rd quarter of 2017 showed that attackers use botnet – a group of malware-infected IoT devices – in carrying out DDoS attacks. These malware-infected IoT devices are remotely controlled by attackers and device owners have no knowledge that their devices are used for DDoS attacks.
In terms of attack requests, 16.9% came from China, 7.6% from Vietnam, 7.2% from Turkey, 5.7% from the US and 4% from India. Meanwhile, in terms of the number of attacking devices, 42.5% came from China, 11.1% from the US, 5.4% from Vietnam, 2.9% from India and 2.2% from Turkey.
DDoS Mitigating Measures
The main distinction between network layer DDoS attack and application layer DDoS attack is that they target different resources. A network layer DDoS attack tries to clog the network, for instance, consuming much of the available bandwidth, while application DDoS layer attempts to drain resources like CPU and memory.
As these 2 types of DDoS attacks target different resources, the attacks are also executed differently. Considering that these 2 types of DDoS attacks target different resources and are executed differently, mitigating each of these DDoS threats needs a substantially different set of security methods.
It’s also important to take into consideration the difference between Gbps and Mpps for mitigation purposes.
Gbps is defined as the measure of the total load placed on a network, also known as throughput, while Mpps is defined as a measure of the rate at which packets are delivered, also known as forwarding rate.
For instance, if your organization’s DDoS mitigation solution has the capability to handle 100 Gbps and process packets at a rate of 20 Mpps, a 50 Gbps DDoS attack at a rate of 40 Mpps can still bring down your organization’s network.
Adding a guaranteed DDoS mitigation to your application or network does not have to be complicated, and does not require an upfront investment. Connect with us today to better understand all available option, and secure your web applications and networks.
Beware of DDoS-for-Hire
Distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks have become a public menace.
DDoS was once a tool used by hactivists to further their social or political ends. In recent years, DDoS has become a toll for purely financial gain and for utter destruction. DDoS-for-hire services, also known as stressers or booters, have grown in recent years.
One DDoS-for-hire organization offers its DDoS service for a monthly fee of $7. A simple online search using the keyword “stressers” or “booters” will yield a number of organizations offering DDoS services for a fee. One DDoS mobile app even showed up on Google Play but this one was immediately pulled out.
Many of these DDoS-for-hire services openly advertise their services on the guise of offering a legitimate DDoS service. The reality is that it’s not illegal to conduct a DDoS attack or stress test on a website, for instance, to test the capacity of the site to receive high volume of traffic or to test how to deflect unwanted volume of traffic. The question of legitimacy comes on whether or not the owner of the website authorizes the stress test.
According to the FBI, the hiring of stresser or booter service to carry out a DDoS attack to take down a website is punishable under the US law called “Computer Fraud and Abuse Act” and this may result in any one or a combination of the following: seizure of computers and other electronic devices, arrest and criminal prosecution, significant prison sentence, penalty or fine.
“Booter and stresser services are a form of DDoS-for-hire – advertised in forum communications and available on Dark Web marketplaces – offering malicious actors the ability to anonymously attack any Internet-connected target,” the FBI said. “These services are obtained through a monetary transaction, usually in the form of online payment services and virtual currency.”
What Can a DDoS-for-Hire Service Actually Do?
The Gammel case is the first Minnesota case to address the DDoS-for-hire cybercrime. In April of this year, in a criminal complaint filed before the US District Court of Minnesota, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) alleged that Gammel, a former employee of Washburn Computer Group – a Minnesota-based company – paid several DDoS-for-hire services to bring down 3 websites of Washburn in a more than one-year-long DDoS campaign.
According to the FBI, the first 2 websites of Washburn were knocked down several times as a result of the DDoS attacks paid by Gammel. The FBI also alleged that the 3rd website – the one that replaced the 2 other sites of Washburn – was knocked down several times as well a result of the DDoS orchestrated by Gammel. Washburn claimed that the DDoS attacks resulted in a minimum of $15,000 in loss.
In the criminal complaint, the FBI defined DDoS attack as "an attempt to make a machine or network resource unavailable to its intended users, such as by temporarily or indefinitely interrupting or suspending services of a host connected to the Internet, usually by shutting down a website or websites connected to target of the DDoS attack.”
The DDoS attacks against Dyn – a domain name service (DNS) provider to which many websites rely on – was considered as one of the largest. Because of the DDoS attacks against Dyn, 80 widely used websites like Twitter, Amazon, Tumblr, Reddit, Spotify and Netflix were rendered temporarily inaccessible to the public.
“The [Dyn] attack used a booter service and was attributed to infected Internet of Things (IoT) devices like routers, digital video recorders, and Webcams/security cameras to execute the DDoS attack,” the FBI said.
According to the FBI source, the DNS provider lost approximately 8% of its customers following the DDoS attacks.
How a DDoS Attack Works?
In the Dyn case, the company itself confirmed that the Mirai botnet was the primary source of DDoS attacks although it won't comment about the motivation or the identity of the attackers.
According to Dyn, on October 21, 2016, it observed a high volume of traffic on 2 occasions in its Managed DNS platform in the Asia Pacific, South America, Eastern Europe and US-West regions. The company said that the 2 major DDoS attacks on its Managed DNS platform involved 100,000 compromised IoT devices originating from different parts of the globe that were infected by the Mirai botnet.
The Mirai botnet works by infecting IoT devices with weak security – those that use default usernames and passwords – and turned them into bots or robots that can be ordered around, in this case, to conduct DDoS attacks.
The effects of malicious and unauthorized DDoS attacks are immediate. They render targeted websites inaccessible or slow. As experienced by Washburn and Dyn, DDoS attacks proved to be costly and can cause businesses to lose customers.
Availability of DDoS Tools
The danger of DDoS attacks is the tools for this cybermenace aren’t just available from the DDoS-for-hire services themselves but from public sources. For instance, one can conduct a DDoS attack on his or her own using the Mirai botnet as the source code of this was made available in September of this year to the public by someone who calls himself or herself “Anna-senpai”.
DDoS tools are also evolving. Just days after the online publication of the Mirai source code, a new DDoS tool called “Reaper” emerged. This DDoS tool hasn’t attacked yet as it’s still in the process of infecting vulnerable IoT devices. The stark difference between the 2 DDoS tools is that while the Mirai infected 100,000 IoT devices, the Reaper has infected over half a million IoT devices. This means that this new botnet is much more powerful.
While it’s cheap to hire malicious cyberactors to conduct DDoS attacks, it’s equally affordable to hire professionals to prevent DDoS attacks. Contact us today if your company is currently burdened by this cybermenace or if your organization simply wants to be proactive in stopping DDoS attacks.
Top 5 Cloud Computing Security Concerns
A Birmingham, Alabama-based healthcare company publicly acknowledged that it was a victim of a recent security breach.
According to the healthcare company, its cloud hosting and server management provider suffered a security breach at its facility. Information which may have been accessed as a result of the security breach at the cloud provider’s facility includes patient's name, address, telephone number, email address, Social Security number, medical record number, patient ID, physician name and health plan/insurance number.
This recent security breach at a cloud provider’s facility shows the vulnerability of some cloud providers.
According to Gartner, Inc., the worldwide cloud services market is projected to grow by 18% in 2017 to total $246.8 billion, from $209.2 billion in 2016.
"While some organizations are still figuring out where cloud actually fits in their overall IT strategy, an effort to cost optimize and bring forth the path to transformation holds strong promise and results for IT outsourcing (ITO) buyers,” Sid Nag, research director at Gartner, said. Nag added that cloud adoption strategies will influence more than 50% of IT outsourcing deals through 2020.
The 2016 Global Cloud Data Security Study conducted by the Ponemon Institute found that 73% of IT professionals said cloud computing applications and platform solutions are important or very important to business operations today. The IT professionals surveyed by Ponemon Institute estimated that 36% of their organizations’ total IT and data processing needs are met by cloud resources.
According to Cloud Security Alliance (PDF), beyond the handful large cloud providers, the reality is that there are tens of thousands of unique cloud providers. Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) is a nonprofit organization that promotes best practices for securing cloud computing.
A January 2016 CSA survey found that only 65% of the survey respondents were confident that the cloud had greater or equal security than internal IT systems. “Cloud provider security is uneven overall, with some providers having excellent security programs and others leaving much to be desired,” the CSA said in its 2016 state of cloud security report.
Here are the top 5 security concerns for cloud-based services:
1. Data Security Breach
The recent data breach at the cloud hosting and server management provider’s facility and the resulting unauthorized access of sensitive data of the Birmingham, Alabama-based healthcare company shows the security vulnerability of cloud providers.
Based on the Ponemon Institute study, the data that organizations move to the cloud is also the information that’s most at risk. Sixty percent of the Ponemon Institute’s 2016 global cloud data security study said it’s more difficult to protect confidential or sensitive information in the cloud.
2. Cloud Account Hijacking
Cloud hijacking refers to the breaking or taking over of a cloud account of an individual or organization. In 2010, Amazon encountered a cross-site scripting bug that allowed attackers to steal user login credentials. In 2014, the cloud hijacking threat called “Man in the Cloud” (PDF) enables an attacker to access synchronization services (such as GoogleDrive and Dropbox) account without compromising the victim’s user name or password.
3. Insider Threat
A malicious insider is defined by the CERT Insider Threat Center as a “current or former employee, contractor, or other business partner who has or had authorized access to an organizations network, system or data and intentionally exceeded or misused that access in a manner that negatively affected the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of the organizations information or information systems”.
In the study "Insider Threats to Cloud Computing: Directions for New Research Challenges", Carnegie Mellon University researchers named 3 types of cloud-related insider threats:
A. Cloud Insider as a Rogue Administrator
According to the Carnegie Mellon University researchers, the threat of rogue administrators is layered differently for a cloud platform compared to a standard enterprise environment, with at least four levels of administrators to consider in the cloud, including hosting company administrators, virtual image administrators, system administrators and application administrators.
B. Insider Who Exploits a Cloud-Related Vulnerability to Steal Information from a Cloud System
According to the Carnegie Mellon University researchers, this second type of cloud-related insider threat refers to an insider within the organization who exploits, whether malicious or accidental, vulnerabilities exposed by the use of cloud services to gain unauthorized access to organization systems or data. An example of this second type of cloud-related insider threat is when an employee of the victim organization is tricked by a malicious outsider into opening a document infected with malicious software.
C. Insider Who Uses Cloud Systems to Carry Out an Attack on an Employer’s Local Resources
This third type of cloud-related insider, according to the Carnegie Mellon University researchers, is different from the previous type of insider as this “third type of insider uses the cloud as the tool to carry out the attack on systems or data targeted that are not necessarily associated with cloud-based systems”. An example of this third type of insider is when an insider who plans to leave the company leverages cloud storage to steal sensitive information to take to a new job with a competitor.
4. Denial of Service Attacks
Another attack path that has been used to adversely affect cloud services is the distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. A DNS amplification attack is an example of DDoS tactic in which the attacker delivers traffic to a victim and reflects it off to a third party to conceal the origin of the attack.
According to Microsoft, even a small DDoS attack – the size of 30 Mbps – if left unchecked could affect the availability of the cloud service. “Even if the service itself remains available for users, the bandwidth users rely on to get to the service can be starved, resulting in slow, intermittent, or unreliable service, or rendering the service unreachable,” Microsoft said.
5. Malware Injection
In the study “Security Threats on Cloud Computing Vulnerabilities”, East Carolina University researchers found that an attacker can create malicious software and inject it to target cloud service models. “Once the injection is completed, the malicious module is executed as one of the valid instances running in the cloud; then, the hacker can do whatever s/he desires such as eavesdropping, data manipulation, and data theft,” the East Carolina University researchers said.
Steve E. Driz