Tool lets hackers launch a denial-of-service attack from a single PC over a DSL connection.
SSL is in the hot seat again: A new, free tool is now circulating that can take down an HTTPS Web server in a denial-of-service attack using a single laptop via a DSL connection.
Researchers with a hacker group called The Hackers Choice (THC) Tuesday released the so-called THC-SSL-DOS tool that abuses the SSL renegotiation feature, which basically re-performs the encryption handshake.
The tool lets an attacker use a single connection to relentlessly perform the renegotiation with the SSL server, eventually overwhelming it. "It's a constant renegotiation. Instead of forming new connections over and over again ... it increases the overhead of the server," said Tyler Reguly, manager of security research and development with nCircle.
It all comes down to an SSL feature--SSL renegotiation--that isn't typically needed for Web servers. "Unless you wanted to change the encryption level, it's not a necessity. Some SSL VPNs make extensive use of it, but it's not needed in the Web browsing world," Reguly said.
The hackers who wrote the tool recommend disabling SSL renegotiation. But even that won't completely prevent such a denial-of-service attack. "It still works if SSL renegotiation is not supported but requires some modifications and more bots before an effect can be seen," the THC hackers said in a statement.
For the tool to take down server farms with SSL load balancing, it requires using about 20 "average size" laptops and 120 Kbps of traffic, they said.
The new tool is reminiscent of the Slowloris attack tool that keeps connections open by sending partial HTTP requests and sends headers at regular intervals to prevent the sockets from closing, and OWASP's Slow HTTP Post tool. There's also the open-source slowhttptest tool that checks a server's vulnerability to a Slowloris-type attack.
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The cybersecurity profession struggles to retain women (figures range from 10 to 20 percent). It's particularly worrisome for an industry with a rapidly growing number of vacant positions.
So why does the shortage of women continue to be worse in security than in other IT sectors? How can men in infosec be better allies for women; and how can women be better allies for one another? What is the industry doing to fix the problem -- what's working, and what isn't?
Is this really a problem at all? Are the low numbers simply an indication that women do not want to be in cybersecurity, and is it possible that more women will never want to be in cybersecurity? How many women would we need to see in the industry to declare success?
Join Dark Reading senior editor Sara Peters and guests Angela Knox of Cloudmark, Barrett Sellers of Arbor Networks, Regina Wallace-Jones of Facebook, Steve Christey Coley of MITRE, and Chris Roosenraad of M3AAWG on Wednesday, July 13 at 1 p.m. Eastern Time to discuss all this and more.