DDoS and Web Application Attacks on the Rise
August 29, 2017

Ari Weil
Akamai

Newly released data shows that distributed denial of service (DDoS) and web application attacks are on the rise once again, according to the Second Quarter, 2017 State of the Internet / Security Report released by Akamai Technologies. Contributing to this rise was the PBot DDoS malware which re-emerged as the foundation for the strongest DDoS attacks seen by Akamai this quarter.

In the case of PBot, malicious actors used decades-old PHP code to generate the largest DDoS attack observed by Akamai in the second quarter. Attackers were able to create a mini-DDoS botnet capable of launching a 75 gigabits per second (Gbps) DDoS attack. Interestingly, the Pbot botnet was comprised of a relatively small 400 nodes, yet still able to generate a significant level of attack traffic.

Another entry on the “everything old is new again” list is represented by the Akamai Enterprise Threat Research Team’s analysis of the use of Domain Generation Algorithms (DGA) in malware Command and Control (C2) infrastructure. Although first introduced with the Conficker worm in 2008, DGA has remained a frequently used communication technique for today's malware. The team found that infected networks generated approximately 15 times the DNS lookup rate of a clean network. This can be explained as the outcome of access to randomly generated domains by the malware on the infected networks. Since most of the generated domains were not registered, trying to access all of them created a lot of noise. Analyzing the difference between behavioral characteristics of infected versus clean networks is one important way of identifying malware activity.

When the Mirai botnet was discovered last September, Akamai was one of its first targets. The company’s platform continued to receive and successfully defended against attacks from the Mirai botnet thereafter. Akamai researchers have used the company’s unique visibility into Mirai to study different aspects of the botnet, most specifically in the second quarter, its C2 infrastructure. Akamai research offers a strong indication that Mirai, like many other botnets, is now contributing to the commoditization of DDoS. While many of the botnet’s C2 nodes were observed conducting “dedicated attacks” against select IPs, even more were noted as participating in what would be considered “pay-for-play” attacks. In these situations, Mirai C2 nodes were observed attacking IPs for a short duration, going inactive and then re-emerging to attack different targets.

“Attackers are constantly probing for weaknesses in the defenses of enterprises, and the more common, the more effective a vulnerability is, the more energy and resources hackers will devote to it,” said Martin McKeay, Akamai Senior Security Advocate. “Events like the Mirai botnet, the exploitation used by WannaCry and Petya, the continued rise of SQLi attacks and the re-emergence of PBot all illustrate how attackers will not only migrate to new tools but also return to old tools that have previously proven highly effective.”

Other key findings from the report include:

■ The number of DDoS attacks in Q2 increased by 28 percent quarter over quarter following three quarters of decline.

■ DDoS attackers are more persistent than ever, attacking targets an average of 32 times over the quarter. One gaming company was attacked 558 times or approximately six times a day on average.

■ Egypt was the origin of the greatest number of unique IP addresses used in frequent DDoS attacks with 32 percent of the global total. Last quarter, the United States held that spot and Egypt was not among the top five.

■ Fewer devices were used to launch DDoS attacks this quarter. The number of IP addresses involved in volumetric DDoS attacks dropped 98 percent from 595,000 to 11,000.

■ The incidence of Web application attacks increased five percent quarter-over-quarter and 28 percent year-over-year.

■ SQLi attacks were used in more than half (51 percent) of web application attacks this quarter — up from 44 percent last quarter — generating nearly 185 million alerts in the second quarter alone.

Methodology: The Akamai Second Quarter, 2017 State of the Internet / Security Report combines attack data from across Akamai’s global infrastructure and represents the research of a diverse set of teams throughout the company. The report provides analysis of the current cloud security and threat landscape, as well as insight into attack trends using data gathered from the Akamai Intelligent Platform. The contributors to the State of the Internet / Security Report include security professionals from across Akamai, including the Security Intelligence Response Team (SIRT), the Threat Research Unit, Information Security, and the Custom Analytics group.

Ari Weil is Senior Director, Industry Marketing, at Akamai

The Latest

February 15, 2018

Organizations are focusing investments on security and analytics, while actively researching emerging technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, according to the 2018 CIO Tech Poll: Tech Priorities survey ...

February 14, 2018

With so many other initiatives to manage, DevOps isn't a top priority for all companies now. Many organizations believe it's wiser to wait. But in fact, the business case to integrate now is very strong — in fact, it's "do or die" territory. This infographic outlines some key reasons why organizations should integrate their software delivery value stream immediately ...

February 12, 2018

Accelerating multi-cloud deployments are enabling organizations to select the cloud platform that best meets the requirements of a specific application, according to the 2018 State of Application Delivery report from F5 Networks. However, this also increases the challenges many companies face in managing operations and security across multiple clouds as they transform their application portfolio to compete in the digital economy ...

February 08, 2018

The slowness of enterprise IT departments to embrace automated, cloud-native solutions for the cloud infrastructure challenges they face has resulted in IT infrastructure that is often ungoverned and insecure. And this is despite the fact that the cloud can be more secure as traditional data centers ...

February 06, 2018

Bank IT teams must embrace that their DevOps capabilities will determine their agile capability. Agile breaks down the barrier between the business and IT, and operations must be treated as a critical element of an agile program. In modern software delivery, the business, development and operations must execute as a unified team. To achieve this, banks are increasingly turning to Continuous Integration (CI) practices as part of the solution ...

February 05, 2018

IT professionals show a heightened concern for cybersecurity risk related to API use, according to a new survey conducted by Imperva. Specifically, 63 percent of respondents are most worried about DDoS threats, bot attacks, and authentication enforcement for APIs ...

February 01, 2018

DevOps are pretty clear for application development, those same applications often have a database back-end. If DevOps is increasing the frequency and reliability of new features for applications, a slower pace of database development can slow down and hinder those same releases ...

January 30, 2018

Without a doubt, DevOps is becoming the go-to strategy for organizations of all industries and sizes looking to master digital transformation and provide the fastest value to customers through software delivery. It is becoming clear that organizations adopting DevOps need a true leader (or engineer) to keep the transformation on track. The following are some tips when hiring for DevOps ...

January 29, 2018

When was the last time your company experienced a significant database error? If it happened in the last 3 months, you’re in good company. In a recent study, 60% of respondents reported a crash or significant database error occurring in the last 6 months. Roughly one in ten respondents reported a serious database problem in the past week ...

January 25, 2018

You've already recognized that business transformation requires digital transformation. Your organization is staffed with the best and brightest developers ready to implement the innovative, business-differentiating technologies you need to attract, engage, and retain customers. And you've invested in scaling Agile, driving DevOps adoption, automating the Continuous Delivery pipeline, and all the other components involved in moving from ideation to delivery as rapidly as possible. So what could possibly go wrong? Testing ...

Share this