Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

ABTV

// // //

DDoS Trends Show Big Impact From Fewer Servers

A change in control networks means that this quarter saw DDoS attacks from fewer endpoints, each having a bigger impact.

Does "quality over quantity" matter when the subject is criminal activity? That's a key question raised by the latest edition of Akamai's Second Quarter, 2017 State of the Internet/Security Report, released this week.

According to the report, issued by the company for nearly a decade, the number of DDoS attacks is up sharply (28%) over the first quarter of 2017, but the number of devices used in the attacks is down even more dramatically -- from an average of 595,000 devices used per attack in Q1 to an average of 11,000 per attack in Q2 -- a drop of 98%.

Image courtesy of Akamai
Image courtesy of Akamai

In a telephone interview with Martin McKeay, Akamai security advocate and senior editor for the report, he told Security Now that the drop in the number of systems used to generate traffic did not mean that the amount of traffic used in the attacks also went down.

"The amount of traffic is comparable to a lot of the Marai attacks but it's being done with a fraction of the number of compromised systems," McKeay said. The difference, he explained, is the rise in the number of attacks making use of a malware variant called PBot to generate the traffic on systems -- and the systems on which PBot runs.

Where Marai took control of IoT end points like thermostats, lightbulbs and other small "smart" devices, PBot looks for larger quarry. "They were using things like Apache web servers and other servers like that," McKeay said. "They're taking advantage of devices or of systems that are designed to have a high bandwidth, designed to be able to respond with a lot of traffic and [where that traffic is] going to be viewed as normal."

The nature of the systems PBot uses has implications beyond just the possible volume of traffic. "Unless you have a SysAdmin that is really paying attention to their systems or seeing slowdowns because of the amount of traffic that PBot is sending, they could maintain control of these for some time," McKeay explained. And ultimately, that control could make for truly massive DDoS attacks.

Image Courtesy of Akamai
Image Courtesy of Akamai

"If Pbot or some of these other variants start making larger uses of the bandwidth of those systems they have compromised -- if they become more virulent -- then they can actually create much larger attacks," McKeay said. "We saw a 75 [gigabit per second] attack this quarter but it's almost certain that, within the next quarter or two, we're going to see some new attacks that are going to dwarf the attacks that we've seen in the past."

"If you'd asked me a year ago I would probably have expected attacks to be breaching five or six hundred gigs [per second] now. But I've now seen the Marai bot net and I think that by the end of the year it's quite likely that we might see a terabit attack on our network," he said. And that scale of attack is available to a much wider range of criminal actors.

McKeay explained that Akamai researchers have been looking at the command and control structure of the Marai bot net. After studying traffic on the control network for nine months, they were able to reach some conclusions about how the network of zombie traffic generators is being used.

"There's a number of the command and control structures that are hitting one or two maybe five targets. So a relatively small cluster of targets," McKeay said, telling Security Now that this was the sort of pattern you would expect if the developer of a bot net was using the net for their own purposes. "Then you've got a lot of the command and control structures that are sending out commands to hit dozens to 100 or more targets. And what that tells us is that command and control structure is being used as a 'pay for play' or for-rent bot net," he said.


Track the heartbeat of the virtualization movement with Light Reading at the NFV & Carrier SDN event in Denver. There's still time to register for this exclusive opportunity to learn from and network with industry experts -- communications service providers get in free!

Someone who wants to damage the business of a rival or enemy can rent the bot net's services for a few minutes or a day. But the purpose of the network isn't to punish a single target -- it's to be a commercial resource that can be turned to profit for the owner. "They're using it to make money," McKeay said. "I mean, we've known that they existed. We suspected that Marai was being used but this has showed us that it almost certainly is one of the latest in for-pay DDoS attacks."

Related posts:

— Curtis Franklin is the editor of SecurityNow.com. Follow him on Twitter @kg4gwa.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Edge-DRsplash-10-edge-articles
I Smell a RAT! New Cybersecurity Threats for the Crypto Industry
David Trepp, Partner, IT Assurance with accounting and advisory firm BPM LLP,  7/9/2021
News
Attacks on Kaseya Servers Led to Ransomware in Less Than 2 Hours
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  7/7/2021
Commentary
It's in the Game (but It Shouldn't Be)
Tal Memran, Cybersecurity Expert, CYE,  7/9/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Improving Enterprise Cybersecurity With XDR
Enterprises are looking at eXtended Detection and Response technologies to improve their abilities to detect, and respond to, threats. While endpoint detection and response is not new to enterprise security, organizations have to improve network visibility, expand data collection and expand threat hunting capabilites if they want their XDR deployments to succeed. This issue of Tech Insights also includes: a market overview for XDR from Omdia, questions to ask before deploying XDR, and an XDR primer.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2013-5683
PUBLISHED: 2022-06-30
** REJECT ** DO NOT USE THIS CANDIDATE NUMBER. ConsultIDs: none. Reason: This candidate was in a CNA pool that was not assigned to any issues during 2013. Notes: none.
CVE-2013-6390
PUBLISHED: 2022-06-30
** REJECT ** DO NOT USE THIS CANDIDATE NUMBER. ConsultIDs: none. Reason: This candidate was in a CNA pool that was not assigned to any issues during 2013. Notes: none.
CVE-2013-6423
PUBLISHED: 2022-06-30
** REJECT ** DO NOT USE THIS CANDIDATE NUMBER. ConsultIDs: none. Reason: This candidate was in a CNA pool that was not assigned to any issues during 2013. Notes: none.
CVE-2013-6464
PUBLISHED: 2022-06-30
** REJECT ** DO NOT USE THIS CANDIDATE NUMBER. ConsultIDs: none. Reason: This candidate was in a CNA pool that was not assigned to any issues during 2013. Notes: none.
CVE-2013-6471
PUBLISHED: 2022-06-30
** REJECT ** DO NOT USE THIS CANDIDATE NUMBER. ConsultIDs: none. Reason: This candidate was in a CNA pool that was not assigned to any issues during 2013. Notes: none.