Mobile attacks add to DDoS arsenal as attack record set: Prolexic

Mobile applications played an increasingly important role in the nature and intensity of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks during 2013 as the frequency of attacks jumped dramatically over the period a year earlier, the latest figures from DDoS-fighting security firm Prolexic confirm.

An overall rise in DDoS intensity continued into the fourth quarter of 2013, according to the Prolexic Quarterly Global DDoS Attack Report Q4 2013, which reported a record-setting 179Gbps DDoS attack and several others weighing in at over 100Gbps.

This helped fuel a 48.04 per cent rise in average peak attack bandwidth compared with the previous quarter, with the average rising from 3.06 Gbps to 4.53 Gbps by year's end. Similarly, there was a 151.21 per cent increase in average peak packets-per-second rate, from 4.22 Mpps to 10.60 Mpps.

Average DDoS attack duration reached 22.88 hours – down 28.95 percent over the same quarter in 2012 – while there was a 17.42 per cent increase in application-layer attacks and 28.97 per cent rise in infrastructure-layer attacks.

Spikes in April and August – which saw DDoS volumes at 104 per cent and 93 per cent compared with a year earlier – were preceded and followed by months with still-significant rises in DDoS volumes, Prolexic's analysis confirmed; only February and June 2013 saw reductions in DDoS volumes compared with the year earlier.

Analysis of Prolexic's DDoS remediation efforts, documented quarterly by the Prolexic Security Engineering and Response Team (PLXsert), found a growing role for mobile applications, with an Android app called AnDOSid blamed for an HTTP POST flood attack on one of the world's largest financial services firms.

“The use of mobile applications in DDoS attacks is an emerging trend that PLXsert expects to become more prevalent in 2014 as many of these opt-in apps can be downloaded from online app stores and no experience is required to use them,” PLXsert warned in the report.

SYN-based DDoS attacks were the most common form of attack in 2013, representing 22.39 per cent of all attacks – down from 24.54 per cent in 2012. Second place went to HTTP GET attacks, which were up slightly over 2012, from 17.45 per cent to 19.52 per cent of DDoS attacks, while the use of UDP and ICMP both dropped markedly from 2012 (18.35 per cent to 13.68 per cent and 18.04 per cent to 13.24 per cent, respectively).

The difference was made up by a surge in the use of DNS-based attacks (up from 3.54 per cent of DDoS attacks to 8.37 per cent) and the entry of new methods in 2013 such as CHARGEN (2.16 percent of attacks in 2013), FIN PUSH (0.41 per cent), HEAD (0.26 per cent) and RP (0.15 per cent).

The most active week of the quarter was observed between November 5 and November 12.

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