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.

Attacks/Breaches

1/19/2017
02:45 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
Google+
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Protesters Called To Join Inauguration Day DDoS Attack

Protesters have been invited to flood WhiteHouse.gov ahead of Trump's inauguration to voice their opposition to the presidency.

The founder of Protester.io is calling upon people to gather for a cyberattack on the White House website to protest Donald Trump's presidency on Inauguration Day.

Tens of thousands of protesters are expected attend the inauguration in Washington, DC, tomorrow, reports NBC News. Meanwhile, hacktivist Juan Soberanis is taking the opposition into cyberspace by asking people who can't go to DC to help take down WhiteHouse.gov with a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack of sorts.

Soberanis, a software engineer from San Francisco's Bay Area, launched a Protester.io webpage to spread awareness of the attack. His call-to-action included the following, as reported by the International Business Times:

"If you can't make it to Washington, DC on inauguration day to protest Trump's presidency, you can still fight for the cause by helping to take down whitehouse.gov as a show of solidarity for the lives impacted by Trump's policy agenda," he wrote on the page, which has since been taken down.

Soberanis continues to explain how by overloading WhiteHouse.gov with visitors, participants can "demonstrate the will of the American people."

The site encouraged protesters to access whitehouse.gov on Jan. 20, 2017 and refresh the page as often as possible throughout the day. Soberanis provided instructions on how users could enable auto-refresh settings on their computers to drive activity.

This type of cyber activity would qualify as a DDoS attack, explains Amichai Shulman, cofounder and CTO of Web security firm Imperva. Most of these attacks, especially those conducted against Web servers, are made of standard traffic coming in huge volumes from machines or clients who are not looking for service or business on the site, but want to disrupt it.

"This would be denying service from people who actually want to get information from [WhiteHouse.gov], because it'll be jammed with requests that have no purpose other than filling the communication pipes," he explains.

It's difficult to tell how much traffic it would take to jam WhiteHouse.gov, says Shulman, because there is no public information about network bandwidth or any special measures the government has in place to protect the site this weekend.

He anticipates the White House will implement an anti-DDoS protection service to prepare for the inauguration. These services determine whether traffic is coming from a human being, or a script designed to generate high-frequency requests. They separate DDoS traffic from business traffic, so only the latter reaches the server.

Would an anti-DDoS service work against the type of attack Soberanis has in mind? That depends on how protesters try to flood the website.

If the attacks only consist of people manually refreshing their browsers, it's doubtful they would be able to generate the traffic needed for a DDoS attack, says Shulman. If they wrote a simple line of code that generated attacks in high frequency, they could drive more activity, but a protective service would pick up on it.

The distinction between manually refreshing a webpage versus creating code to automatically refresh it also marks the distinction between a legitimate and illegitimate protest, he says.

"If you open a browser and constantly refresh, that's a legitimate protest by a human being," Shulman explains. The use of software to generate a lot of traffic to a website lacks the same effort.

"To me, this is the difference between what's a legitimate protest, and what's just rude," he notes. In either case, the effectiveness of the Inauguration Day protest will not be measured in how quickly people can shut down the site.

"I think the success of a protest is measured not by whether you can actually block access to someplace or take down a server, but whether you create enough attention for your cause, and drive some change as a consequence of that attention," says Shulman.

The US government is no stranger to cyberattacks. Security will be a major concern for the new administration as attacks grow more persistent and complex, explains Kyle Wilhoit, senior security researcher for DomainTools.

"New methods of civil disobedience will likely come out of the woodwork, not only to combat perceived threats to personal privacy, but to also voice their concerns with political parties seemingly not aligned with the attackers," he says.

These methods could range from DDoS attacks from IoT connected devices, to large-scale attempts to knock world markets offline. Wilhoit also warns we may likely see an Internet-wide outage at some point within the next couple of years, which could cause political and financial problems across the globe.

Related Content:

Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Florida Town Pays $600K to Ransomware Operators
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  6/20/2019
Pledges to Not Pay Ransomware Hit Reality
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  6/21/2019
AWS CISO Talks Risk Reduction, Development, Recruitment
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  6/25/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Building and Managing an IT Security Operations Program
As cyber threats grow, many organizations are building security operations centers (SOCs) to improve their defenses. In this Tech Digest you will learn tips on how to get the most out of a SOC in your organization - and what to do if you can't afford to build one.
Flash Poll
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
Your enterprise's cyber risk may depend upon the relationship between the IT team and the security team. Heres some insight on what's working and what isn't in the data center.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-1619
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-27
A vulnerability in the web-based management interface of Cisco Data Center Network Manager (DCNM) could allow an unauthenticated, remote attacker to bypass authentication and execute arbitrary actions with administrative privileges on an affected device. The vulnerability is due to improper session ...
CVE-2019-1620
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-27
A vulnerability in the web-based management interface of Cisco Data Center Network Manager (DCNM) could allow an unauthenticated, remote attacker to upload arbitrary files on an affected device. The vulnerability is due to incorrect permission settings in affected DCNM software. An attacker could ex...
CVE-2019-1621
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-27
A vulnerability in the web-based management interface of Cisco Data Center Network Manager (DCNM) could allow an unauthenticated, remote attacker to gain access to sensitive files on an affected device. The vulnerability is due to incorrect permissions settings on affected DCNM software. An attacker...
CVE-2019-1622
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-27
A vulnerability in the web-based management interface of Cisco Data Center Network Manager (DCNM) could allow an unauthenticated, remote attacker to retrieve sensitive information from an affected device. The vulnerability is due to improper access controls for certain URLs on affected DCNM software...
CVE-2019-10133
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-26
A flaw was found in Moodle before 3.7, 3.6.4, 3.5.6, 3.4.9 and 3.1.18. The form to upload cohorts contained a redirect field, which was not restricted to internal URLs.