Reflection techniques comprise nearly half of surging DDoS volumes: PLXsert

Nearly 40 percent of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks now rely on reflection techniques rather than brute-force breaches to seize control of the victim systems, a new analysis by Akamai's Prolexic Security Engineering and Research Team (PLXsert) has found.

The organisation's latest quarterly State of the Internet – Security Report found that the number of DDoS attacks had nearly doubled during the fourth quarter of 2014 compared with the same period a year earlier.

Those attacks were also getting larger and more complex. PLXsert reported a 52 percent observed year-on-year increase in DDoS average peak bandwidth, while noting that the proportion of multi-vector attacks rose 88 percent over the same period a year earlier; during Q4, more than 44 percent of observed attacks used multiple attack vectors.

The continuing growth in DDoS usage, including the use of reflection techniques that exploit the normal operation of chatty Internet protocols to fling large amounts of irrelevant traffic at a target, reinforces the argument that “denial of service is a common and active threat to a wide range of enterprises,” Akamai Cloud Security Business Unit vice president John Summers said in a statement.

“Most unprotected sites cannot withstand a typical DDoS attack. As a result, DDoS attacks have become part of the common cybersecurity threatscape that all enterprises with an online presence must anticipate in a risk assessment.”

The PLXsert report also looked at the geographical distribution of the observed DDoS attacks, noting that growth in attacks on “previously underrepresented geographic locations” had resulted in an increasingly even geographical distribution for the attacks.

Attacks lasted 28 percent longer than a year earlier, on average – an average of 29 hours each – and there was a 200 percent increase in the number of 100Gbps-plus attacks compared with the same period in 2013.

An observed 51 percent growth in application-layer attacks corroborates figures reported this week by rival security firm Arbor Networks, which found a rise in application-layer attacks that was likely to put new pressure on cloud-based service providers to improve their DDoS detection and management capabilities.

One particular type of attack, SSDP flood, was first observed during the third quarter of 2014 but its use grew 214 percent in the fourth quarter and it was successfully used to generate 106Gbps of DDoS traffic during one observed campaign.

“The size of this attack demonstrates the expansion of the DDoS threat landscape by millions of Internet of Things (IoT) devices,” the report's authors warned.

This article is brought to you by Enex TestLab, content directors for CSO Australia.

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