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DDoS

5 Steps to Prepare for a DDoS Attack

September 10, 2019 — by Eyal Arazi3

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It’s inevitable almost as death and taxes: somewhere, at some point, you will come under a DDoS attack.

The reasons for DDoS attacks can vary from cyber crime to hacktivism to simple bad luck, but eventually someone will be out there to try and take you down.

The good news, however, is that there is plenty to be done about it. Below are five key steps you can begin taking today so that you are prepared when the attack comes.

Step 1: Map Vulnerable Assets

The ancient Greeks said that knowing thyself is the beginning of wisdom.

It is no surprise, therefore, that the first step to securing your assets against a DDoS attack is to know what assets there are to be secured.

[You may also like: DDoS Protection Requires Looking Both Ways]

Begin by listing all external-facing assets that might potentially be attacked. This list should include both physical and virtual assets:

  • Physical locations & offices
  • Data centers
  • Servers
  • Applications
  • IP addresses and subnets
  • Domains, sub-domains and specific FQDN’s

Mapping out all externally-facing assets will help you draw your threat surface and identify your point of vulnerability.

Step 2: Assess Potential Damages

After listing all potentially vulnerable assets, figure out how much they are worth to you.

This is a key question, as the answer will help determine how much you should spend in protecting these properties.

[You may also like: The Costs of Cyberattacks Are Real]

Keep in mind that some damages are direct, while other may be indirect. Some of the potential damages from a DDoS attack include:

  • Direct loss of revenue – If your website or application is generating revenue directly on a regular basis, then any loss of availability will cause direct, immediate losses in revenue. For example, if your website generates $1m a day, every hour of downtime, on average, will cause over $40,000 in damages.
  • Loss in productivity – For organizations that rely on online services, such as email, scheduling, storage, CRM or databases, any loss of availability to any of these services will directly result in loss of productivity and lost workdays.
  • SLA obligations – For applications and services that are bound by service commitments, any downtime can lead to breach of SLA, resulting in refunding customers for lost services, granting service credits, and even potentially facing lawsuits.
  • Damage to brand – In a world that is becoming ever-more connected, being available is increasingly tied to a company’s brand and identity. Any loss of availability as a result of a cyber-attack, therefore, can directly impact a company’s brand and reputation. In fact, Radware’s 2018 Application and Network Security Report showed that 43% of companies had experienced reputation loss as a result of a cyber-attack.
  • Loss of customers – One of the biggest potential damages of a successful DDoS attack is loss of customers. This can be either direct loss (i.e., a customer chooses to abandon you as a result of a cyber-attack) or indirect (i.e., potential customers who are unable to reach you and lost business opportunities). Either way, this is a key concern.

[You may also like: How Cyberattacks Directly Impact Your Brand]

When evaluating potential damages of a DDoS attack, assess each vulnerable asset individually. A DDoS attack against a customer-facing e-commerce site, for example, will result in very different damages than an attack against a remote field office.

After you assess the risk to each asset, prioritize them according to risk and potential damages. This will not only help you assess which assets need protection, but also the type of protection they require.

Step 3: Assign Responsibility

Once you create an inventory of potentially vulnerable assets, and then assign a dollar-figure (or any other currency…) to how much they are worth for you, the next step is to decide who is responsible for protecting them.

DDoS attacks are a unique type of cyber attack, as they affect different levels of IT infrastructure and can therefore potentially fall under the responsibility of different stakeholders:

  • Is DDoS the responsibility of the network administrator, since it affects network performance?
  • Is it the responsibility of application owner, since it impacts application availability?
  • Is it the responsibility of the business manager, since it affects revenue?
  • Is it the responsibility of the CISO, since it is a type of cyber attack?

A surprising number of organizations don’t have properly defined areas of responsibility with regards to DDoS protection. This can result in DDoS defense “falling between the cracks,” leaving assets potentially exposed.

[You may also like: 5 Key Considerations in Choosing a DDoS Mitigation Network]

Step 4: Set Up Detection Mechanisms

Now that you’ve evaluated which assets you must protect and who’s responsible for protecting them, the next step is to set up measures that will alert you to when you come under attack.

After all, you don’t want your customers – or worse, your boss – to be the ones to tell you that your services and applications are offline.

Detection measures can be deployed either at the network level or at the application level.

Make sure these measures are configured so that they don’t just detect attacks, but also alert you when something bad happens.

[You may also like: Does Size Matter? Capacity Considerations When Selecting a DDoS Mitigation Service]

Step 5: Deploy a DDoS Protection Solution

Finally, after you’ve assessed your vulnerabilities and costs, and set up attack detection mechanisms, now is the time to deploy actual protection.

This step is best done before you get attacked, and not when you are already under one.

DDoS protection is not a one-size-fits-all proposition, and there are many types of protection options, depending on the characteristics, risk and value of each individual asset.

On-demand cloud mitigation services are activated only once an attack is detected. They require the lowest overhead and are the lowest cost solution, but require traffic diversion for protection to kick-in. As a result, they are best suited for cost-sensitive customers, services which are not mission-critical, and customers who have never been (or are infrequently) attacked, but want a basic form of backup.

[You may also like: Is It Legal to Evaluate a DDoS Mitigation Service?]

Always-on cloud services route all traffic through a cloud scrubbing center at all times. No diversion is required, but there is minor added latency to requests. This type of protection is best for mission-critical applications which cannot afford any downtime, and organizations that are frequently attacked.

Hardware-based appliances provide advanced capabilities and fast-response of premise-based equipment. However, an appliance, on its own, is limited in its capacity. Therefore, they are best used for service providers who are building their own scrubbing capabilities, or in combination with a cloud service.

Finally, hybrid DDoS protection combines the massive capacity of cloud services with the advanced capabilities and fast response of a hardware appliance. Hybrid protection is best for mission-critical and latency-sensitive services, and organizations who encrypt their user traffic, but don’t want to put their SSL keys in the cloud.

Ultimately, you can’t control if-and-when you are attacked, but following these steps will help you be prepared when DDoS attackers come knocking at your door.

Download Radware’s “Hackers Almanac” to learn more.

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DDoS

The Emergence of Denial-of-Service Groups

August 27, 2019 — by Radware2

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Denial-of-Service (DoS) attacks are cyberattacks designed to render a computer or network service unavailable to its users. A standard DoS attack is when an attacker utilizes a single machine to launch an attack to exhaust the resources of another machine. A DDoS attack uses multiple machines to exhaust the resources of a single machine.

DoS attacks have been around for some time, but only recently has there been an emergence of denial-of-service groups that have constructed large botnets to target massive organizations for profit or fame. These groups often utilize their own stresser services and amplification methods to launch massive volumetric attacks, but they have also been known to make botnets available for rent via the darknet.

If a denial-of-service group is targeting your organization, ensure that your network is prepared to face an array of attack vectors ranging from saturation floods to Burst attacks designed to overwhelm mitigation devices.

Hybrid DDoS mitigation capabilities that combine on-premise and cloud-based volumetric protection for real-time DDoS mitigation are recommended. This requires the ability to efficiently identify and block anomalies that strike your network while not adversely affecting legitimate traffic. An emergency response plan is also required.

Learn more:

Download Radware’s “Hackers Almanac” to learn more.

Download Now

DDoS

How to Choose a Cloud DDoS Scrubbing Service

August 21, 2019 — by Eyal Arazi0

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Buying a cloud-based security solution is more than just buying a technology. Whereas when you buy a physical product, you care mostly about its immediate features and capabilities, a cloud-based service is more than just lines on a spec sheet; rather, it is a combination of multiple elements, all of which must work in tandem, in order to guarantee performance.

Cloud Service = Technology + Network + Support

There are three primary elements that determine the quality of a cloud security service: technology, network, and support.

Technology is crucial for the underlying security and protection capabilities. The network is required for a solid foundation on which the technology runs on, and the operation & support component is required to bring them together and keep them working.

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Take any one out, and the other two legs won’t be enough for the service to stand on.

This is particularly true when looking for a cloud-based DDoS scrubbing solution. Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks have distinct features that make them different than other types of cyber-attacks. Therefore, there are specific requirements for cloud-based DDoS protection service that cover the full gamut of technology, network, and support that are particular to DDoS protection.

Technology

As I explained earlier, technology is just one facet of what makes-up a cloud security service. However, it is the building block on which everything else is built.

The quality of the underlying technology is the most important factor in determining the quality of protection. It is the technology that determines how quickly an attack will be detected; it is the quality of the technology that determines whether it can tell the difference between a traffic spike in legitimate traffic, and a DDoS attack; and it is the technology that determines whether it can adapt to attack patterns in time to keep your application online or not.

[You may also like: Why You Still Need That DDoS Appliance]

In order to make sure that your protection is up to speed, there are a few key core features you want to make sure that your cloud service provides:

  • Behavioral detection: It is often difficult to tell the difference between a legitimate traffic in customer traffic – say, during peak shopping periods – and a surge caused by a DDoS attack. Rate-based detection won’t be able to tell the difference, resulting in false positives. Therefore, behavioral detection, which looks not just at traffic rates, but also at non-rate behavioral parameters is a must-have capability.
  • Automatic signature creation: Attackers are relying more and more on multi-vector and ‘hit-and-run’ burst attacks, which frequently switch between different attack methods. Any defense mechanism based on manual configurations will fail because it won’t be able to keep up with changed. Only defenses which provide automatic, real-time signature creation can keep up with such attacks, in order to tailor defenses to the specific characteristics of the attack.
  • SSL DDoS protection: As more and more internet traffic becomes encrypted – over 85% according to the latest estimates – protection against encrypted DDoS floods becomes ever more important. Attackers can leverage DDoS attacks in order to launch potent DDoS attacks which can quickly overwhelm server resources. Therefore, protection capabilities against SSL-based DDoS attacks is key.
  • Application-layer protection: As more and more services migrate online, application-layer (L7) DDoS attacks are increasingly used in order to take them down. Many traditional DDoS mitigation services look only at network-layer (L3/4) protocols, but up-to-date protection must include application-layer protection, as well.
  • Zero-day protection: Finally, attackers are constantly finding new ways of bypassing traditional security mechanisms and hitting organizations with attack methods never seen before. Even by making small changes to attack signatures hackers can craft attacks that are not recognized by manual signatures. That’s why including zero-day protection features, which can adapt to new attack types, is an absolute must-have.

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Network

The next building block is the network. Whereas the technology stops the attack itself, it is the network that scales-out the service and deploys it on a global scale. Here, too, there are specific requirements that are uniquely important in the case of DDoS scrubbing networks:

  • Massive capacity: When it comes to protection against volumetric DDoS attacks, size matters. DDoS attack volumes have been steadily increasing over the past decade, with each year reaching new peaks. That is why having large-scale, massive capacity at your disposal in an absolute requirement to stop attacks.
  • Dedicated capacity: It’s not enough, however, to just have a lot of capacity. It is also crucial that this capacity be dedicated to DDoS scrubbing. Many security providers rely on their CDN capacity, which is already being widely utilized, for DDoS mitigation, as well.Therefore, it is much more prudent to focus on networks whose capacity is dedicated to DDoS scrubbing and segregated from other services such as CDN, WAF, or load-balancing.
  • Global footprint: Fast response and low latency are crucial components in service performance. A critical component in latency, however, is distance between the customer and the host. Therefore, in order to minimize latency, it is important for the scrubbing center to be as close as possible to the customer, which can only be achieve with a globally distributed network with a large footprint.

Support

The final piece of the ‘puzzle’ of providing a high-quality cloud security network is the human element; that is, maintenance, operation and support.

Beyond the cold figures of technical specifications, and the bits-and-bytes of network capacity, it is the service element that ties together the technology and network, and makes sure that they keep working in tandem.

[You may also like: 5 Key Considerations in Choosing a DDoS Mitigation Network]

Here, too, there are a few key elements to look at when considering a cloud security network:

  • Global Team: Maintaining global operations of a cloud security service requires a team large enough to ensure 24x7x365 operations. Moreover, sophisticated security teams use a ‘follow-the-sun’ model, with team member distributed strategically around the world, to make sure that experts are always available, regardless of time or location. Only teams that reach a certain size – and companies that reach a certain scale – can guarantee this.
  • Team Expertise: Apart from sheer numbers of team member, it is also their expertise that matter. Cyber security is a discipline, and DDoS protection, in particular, is a specialization.  Only a team with a distinguished, long track record in  protecting specifically against DDoS attacks can ensure that you have the staff, skills, and experience required to be fully protected.
  • SLA: The final qualification are the service guarantees provided by your cloud security vendor. Many service providers make extensive guarantees, but fall woefully short when it comes to backing them up. The Service Level Agreement (SLA) is your guarantee that your service provider is willing to put their money where their mouth is. A high-quality SLA must provide individual measurable metrics for attack detection, diversion (if required), alerting, mitigation, and uptime. Falling short of those should call into question your vendors ability to deliver on their promises.

A high-quality cloud security service is more than the sum of its parts. It is the technology, network, and service all working in tandem – and hitting on all cylinders – in order to provide superior protection. Falling short on any one element can potentially jeopardize quality of the protection delivered to customers. Use the points outlined above to ask yourself whether your cloud security vendor has all the right pieces to provide quality protection, and if they don’t – perhaps it is time for you to consider alternatives.

Read “2019 C-Suite Perspectives: From Defense to Offense, Executives Turn Information Security into a Competitive Advantage” to learn more.

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DDoS

Why You Still Need That DDoS Appliance

July 2, 2019 — by Eyal Arazi0

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More and more organizations are adopting cloud-based DDoS defenses and substituting them for their old, premise-based DDoS appliances. Nonetheless, there are still a number of reasons why you might want to keep that DDoS appliance around.

The Rise of Cloud Protection

More and more organizations are deploying cloud-based DDoS mitigation services. Indeed, Frost & Sullivan estimated that by 2021, cloud-based mitigation service will account for 70% of spending on DDoS protection.

The reasons for adopting cloud-based protections are numerous. First and foremost, is capacity. As DDoS attacks keep getting bigger, high-volume DDoS attacks capable of saturating the inbound communication pipe are becoming more common. For that reason, having large-scale cloud-based scrubbing capacity to absorb such attacks is indispensable.

[You may also like: Does Size Matter? Capacity Considerations When Selecting a DDoS Mitigation Service]

Moreover, cloud-based DDoS defenses are purchased on a pay-as-you-go SaaS subscription model, so organizations can quickly scale up or down, and don’t need to allocate large amounts of capital expenditure (CAPEX) far in advance. In addition, cloud services usually provide easier management and lower overhead than on-prem equipment, and don’t require dedicated staff to manage.

It is no surprise, then, that more and more organizations are looking to the cloud for DDoS protection.

The benefits of the cloud notwithstanding, there are still several key reasons why organizations would still want to maintain their hardware appliances, alongside cloud-based services.

[You may also like: Managing Security Risks in the Cloud]

Two-Way Traffic Visibility

Cloud-based services, by definition, only provide visibility into ingress – or inbound – traffic into the organization. They inspect traffic as it flows through to the origin, and scrub-out malicious traffic it identifies. While this is perfectly fine for most types of DDoS attacks, there are certain types of DDoS attacks that require visibility into both traffic channels in order to be detected and mitigated.

Examples of attacks that require visibility into egress traffic in order to detect include:

  • Out-of-State Protocol Attacks: These attacks exploit weaknesses in protocol communication process (such as TCP’s three-way handshake) to create “out-of-state” connection requests which exhaust server resources. Although some attacks of this type – such as SYN floods – can be mitigated solely with visibility into ingress traffic only, other types of out-of-state DDoS attacks – such as an ACK flood – require visibility into the outbound channel, as well. Visibility into the egress channel will be required to detect that these ACK responses are not associated with a legitimate SYN/ACK response, and can therefore be blocked.

[You may also like: 5 Key Considerations in Choosing a DDoS Mitigation Network]

  • Reflection/Amplification Attacks: These attacks take advantage of the asymmetric nature of some protocols or request types in order to launch attacks that will exhaust server resources or saturate the outbound communication channel. An example of such an attack is a large file download attack. In this case, visibility into the egress channel is required to detect the spike in outbound traffic flowing from the network.
  • Scanning attacks: Such attacks frequently bare the hallmarks of a DDoS attack, since they flood the network with large numbers of erroneous connection requests. Such scans frequently generate large numbers of error replies, which can clog-up the outbound channel. Again, visibility into the outbound traffic is required to identify the error response rate relative to legitimate inbound traffic, so that defenses can conclude that an attack is taking place.

Application-layer Protection

Similarly, relying on a premise-based appliance has certain advantages for application-layer (L7) DDoS protection and SSL handling.

Certain types of application-layer(L7) DDoS attacks exploit known protocol weaknesses in order to generate large numbers of forged application requests that exhaust server resources. Examples of such attacks are low-and-slow attacks or application-layer SYN floods, which draw-out TCP and HTTP connections to continuously consume server resources.

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Again, although some such attacks can be mitigated by cloud scrubbing service, mitigating some types of attacks requires application state-awareness that cloud-based mitigation services usually do not possess.

Using a premise-based DDoS mitigation appliance with application-layer DDoS protection capabilities allows organizations to have this.

SSL DDoS Protection

Moreover, SSL encryption is adding another layer of complexity, as the encryption layers makes it difficult to inspect traffic contents for malicious traffic. In order to inspect traffic contents, cloud-based services must decrypt all traffic, inspect it, scrub-out bad traffic, and re-encrypt it, before forwarding it to the customer origin.

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As a result, most cloud-based DDoS mitigation services either provide no protection at all for SSL-based traffic, or use full-proxy SSL offloading which require that customers upload their certificates to the service provider’s cloud infrastructure.

However, performing full SSL offloading in the cloud is frequently a burdensome process which adds latency to customer communications and violates user privacy. That is why many organizations are hesitant – or don’t have the capability – of sharing their SSL keys with third party cloud service providers.

[You may also like: How to (Securely) Share Certificates with Your Cloud Security Provider]

Again, deploying a premise-based appliance allows organizations to protect against SSL DDoS floods while keeping SSL certificates in-house.

Layered Protection

Finally, using a premise-based hardware appliance in conjunction with a cloud service allows for layered protection in case attack traffic somehow gets through the cloud protection.

Using a premise-based appliances allows the organization control directly over device configuration and management. Although many organizations prefer that this be handled by cloud-based managed services, some organizations (and some security managers) prefer to have this deeper level of control.

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This control also allows security policy granularity, so that security policies can be fine-tuned exactly to the needs of the organizations, and cover attack vectors that the cloud-layer does not – or cannot – cover.

Finally, this allows for security failover, so that if malicious traffic somehow gets through the cloud mitigation, the appliance will handle it.

The Best Practice: A Hybrid Approach

Ultimately, it is up to each organization to decide what is the optimal solution for them, and what type of deployment model (appliance, pure cloud, or hybrid) is best for them.

Nonetheless, more and more enterprises are adopting a hybrid approach, combining the best of both worlds between the security granularity of hardware appliances, and the capacity and resilience of cloud services.

In particular, an increasingly popular option is an always-on hybrid solution, which combines always-on cloud service together with a hardware DDoS mitigation appliance. Combining these defenses allows for constant, uninterrupted protection against volumetric protection, while also protecting against application-layer and SSL DDoS attacks, while reducing exposure of SSL keys and improving handling of SSL traffic.

Read “The Trust Factor: Cybersecurity’s Role in Sustaining Business Momentum” to learn more.

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Botnets: DDoS and Beyond

June 20, 2019 — by Daniel Smith0

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Traditionally, DDoS is an avenue of profit for botherders. But today’s botnets have evolved to include several attack vectors other than DDoS that are more profitable. And just as any business-oriented person would do, attackers follow the money.

As a result, botherders are targeting enterprise and network software, since residential devices have become over saturated. The days of simple credentials-based attacks are long behind us. Attackers are now looking for enterprise devices that will help expand their offerings and assists in developing additional avenues of profit.

A few years ago, when IoT botnets became all the rage, they were mainly targeting residential devices with simple credential attacks (something the DDoS industry does not prevent from happening; instead we take the position of mitigating attacks coming from infected residential devices).

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From Personal to Enterprise

But now that attackers are targeting enterprise devices, the industry must reevaluate the growing threat behind today’s botnets.

We now have to focus on not only protecting the network from external attacks but also the devices and servers found in a typical enterprise network from being infected by botnet malware and leveraged to launch attacks.

In a blog posted on MIT’s Technology Review titled, Inside the business model for botnets, C.G.J. Putman and colleagues from the University of Twente in the Netherlands detail the economics of a botnet. The article sheds some light on the absence of DDoS attacks and the growth of other vectors of attack generated from a botnet.

In their report, the team states that DDoS attacks from a botnet with 30,000 infected devices could generate around $26,000 a month. While that might seem like a lot, it’s actually a drop in the bucket compared to other attack vectors that can be produced from a botnet.

For example, C.G.J. Putman and Associates reported that a spamming botnet with 10,000 infected devices can generate $300,000 a month. The most profitable? Click fraud, which can generate over $20 million per month in profit.

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To put that in perspective, AppleJ4ck and P1st from Lizard Squad made close to $600,000 over 2 years’ operating a stresser service called vDoS.

So let me ask this: If you are a botherder risking your freedom for profit, are you going to construct a botnet strictly for DDoS attacks or will you construct a botnet with more architecturally diverse devices to support additional vectors of profit?

Exactly. Botherders will continue to maximize their efforts and profitability by targeting enterprise devices.

Read the “IoT Attack Handbook – A Field Guide to Understanding IoT Attacks from the Mirai Botnet and its Modern Variants” to learn more.

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DDoSSecurity

Why Hybrid Always-On Protection Is Your Best Bet

June 19, 2019 — by Eyal Arazi0

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Users today want more. The ubiquity and convenience of online competition means that customers want everything better, faster, and cheaper. One key component of the user experience is service availability. Customers expect applications and online services to be constantly available and responsive.

The problem, however, is that a new generation of larger and more sophisticated Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks is making DDoS protection a more challenging task than ever before. Massive IoT botnets are resulting in ever-larger volumetric DDoS attacks, while more sophisticated application-layer attacks find new ways of exhausting server resources. Above all, the ongoing shift to encrypted traffic is creating a new challenge with potent SSL DDoS floods.

Traditional DDoS defense – either premise-based or cloud-based – provide incomplete solutions which require inherent trade-offs between high-capacity volumetric protection, protection against sophisticated application-layer DDoS attacks, and handling of SSL certificates. The solution, therefore, is adopting a new hybrid DDoS protection model which combines premise-based appliances, together with an always-on cloud service.

Full Protection Requires Looking Both Ways

As DDoS attacks become more complex, organizations require more elaborate protections to mitigate such attacks. However, in order to guarantee complete protection, many types of attacks – particularly the more sophisticated ones – require visibility into both inbound and outbound channels.

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Attacks such as large-file DDoS attacks, ACK floods, scanning attacks, and others exploit the outbound communication channel for attacks that cannot be identified just by looking at ingress traffic. Such attacks are executed by sending small numbers of inbound requests, which have an asymmetric and disproportionate impact either on the outbound channel, or computing resources inside the network.

SSL is Creating New Challenges

On top of that, SSL/TLS traffic encryption is adding another layer of complexity. Within a short time, the majority of internet traffic has become encrypted. Traffic encryption helps secure customer data, and users now expect security to be part of the service experience. According to the Mozilla Foundation’s Let’s Encrypt project, nearly 80% of worldwide internet traffic is already encrypted, and the rate is constantly growing.

[You may also like: HTTPS: The Myth of Secure Encrypted Traffic Exposed]

Ironically, while SSL/TLS is critical for securing user data, it also creates significant management challenges, and exposes services to a new generation of powerful DDoS attacks:

  • Increased Potency of DDoS Attacks: SSL/TLS connections requiring up to 15 times more resources from the target servers than the requesting host. This means that hackers can launch devastating attacks using only a small number of connections, and quickly overwhelm server resources using SSL floods.
  • Masking of Data Payload: Moreover, encryption masks – by definition – the internal contents of traffic requests, preventing deep inspection of packets against malicious traffic. This limits the effectiveness of anti-DDoS defense layers, and the types of attacks they can detect. This is particularly true for application-layer (L7) DDoS attacks which hide under the coverage of SSL encryption.
  • SSL Key Exposure: Many organizational, national, or industry regulations which forbid SSL keys from being shared with third-party entities. This creates a unique challenge to organizations who must provide the most secured user experience while also protecting their SSL keys from exposure.
  • Latency and Privacy Concerns: Offloading of SSL traffic in the cloud is usually a complex and time-consuming task. Most cloud-based SSL DDoS solutions require full decryption of customer traffic by the cloud provider, thereby compromising user privacy and adding latency to customer communications.

Existing Solutions Provide Partial Coverage

The problem, however, is that existing anti-DDoS defenses are unable to provide solutions that provide high-capacity volumetric protection while providing bi-directional protection required by sophisticated types of attacks.

On-Premise Appliances provide high level of protection against a wide variety of DDoS attacks, while providing very low latency and fast response. In addition, being on-premise, they allow companies to deal with SSL-based attacks without exposing their encryption keys to the outside world. Since they have visibility into both inbound and outbound traffic, they offer bi-directional protection against symmetric DDoS attacks. However, physical appliance can’t deal with large-scale volumetric attacks which have become commonplace in the era of massive IoT botnets.

[You may also like: How to (Securely) Share Certificates with Your Cloud Security Provider]

Cloud-based DDoS protection services, on the other hand, possess the bandwidth to deal with large-scale volumetric attacks. However, they offer visibility only into the inbound communication channel. Thus, they have a hard time protecting against bi-directional DDoS attacks. Moreover, cloud-based SSL DDoS defenses – if the vendor has those at all – frequently require that the organization upload their SSL certificates online, increasing the risk of those keys being exposed.

The Optimal Solution: Hybrid Always-On Approach

For companies that place a high premium on the user experience, and wish to avoid even the slightest possible downtime as a result of DDoS attacks, the optimal solution is to deploy an always-on hybrid solution.

The hybrid approach to DDoS protection combines an on-premise hardware appliance with always-on cloud-based scrubbing capacity. This helps ensure that services are protected against any type of attack.

[You may also like: Application Delivery Use Cases for Cloud and On-Premise Applications]

Hybrid Always-On DDoS Protection

Compared to the pure-cloud always-on deployment model, the hybrid always-on approach adds multi-layered protection against symmetric DDoS attacks which saturate the outbound pipe, and allows for maintaining SSL certificates on-premise.

Benefits of the Hybrid Always-On Model

  • Multi-Layered DDoS Protection: The combination of a premise-based hardware mitigation device coupled with cloud-based scrubbing capacity offers multi-layered protection at different levels. If an attack somehow gets through the cloud protection layer, it will be stopped by the on-premise appliance.
  • Constant, Uninterrupted Volumetric Protection: Since all traffic passes through a cloud-based scrubbing center at all times, the cloud-based service provides uninterrupted, ongoing protection against high-capacity volumetric DDoS attack.
  • Bi-Directional DDoS Protection: While cloud-based DDoS protection services inspect only the inbound traffic channel, the addition of a premise-based appliance allows organizations to inspect the outbound channel, as well, thereby protecting themselves against two-way DDoS attacks which can saturate the outbound pipe, or otherwise require visibility to return traffic in order to identify attack patterns.
  • Reduced SSL Key Exposure: Many national or industry regulations require that encryption keys not be shared with anyone else. The inclusion of a premise-based hardware appliance allows organizations to protect themselves against encrypted DDoS attacks while keeping their SSL keys in-house.
  • Decreased Latency for Encrypted Traffic: SSL offloading in the cloud is frequently a complex and time-consuming affair, which adds much latency to user communications. Since inspection of SSL traffic in the hybrid always-on model is done primarily by the on-premise hardware appliance, users enjoy faster response times and lower latency.

[You may also like: Does Size Matter? Capacity Considerations When Selecting a DDoS Mitigation Service]

Guaranteeing service availability while simultaneously ensuring the quality of the customer experience is a multi-faceted and complex proposition. Organizations are challenged by growth in the size of DDoS attacks, the increase in sophistication of application-layer DDoS attacks, and the challenges brought about by the shift to SSL encryption.

Deploying a hybrid always-on solution allows for both inbound and outbound visibility into traffic, enhanced protections for application-layer and encrypted traffic, and allows for SSL keys to be kept in-house, without exposing them to the outside.

Read “The Trust Factor: Cybersecurity’s Role in Sustaining Business Momentum” to learn more.

Download Now

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5 Key Considerations in Choosing a DDoS Mitigation Network

May 21, 2019 — by Eyal Arazi0

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A DDoS mitigation service is more than just the technology or the service guarantees. The quality and resilience of the underlying network is a critical component in your armor, and one which must be carefully evaluated to determine how well it can protect you against sophisticated DDoS attacks.

Below are five key considerations in evaluating a DDoS scrubbing network.

Massive Capacity

When it comes to protection against volumetric DDoS attacks, size matters. DDoS attack volumes have been steadily increasing over the past decade, with each year reaching new heights (and scales) of attacks.

To date, the largest-ever verified DDoS attack was a memcached-based attack against GitHub. This attacked reached peak of approximately 1.3 terabits per second (Tbps) and 126 million packets per second (PPS).

In order to withstand such an attack, scrubbing networks must have not just enough to ‘cover’ the attack, but also ample overflow capacity to accommodate other customers on the network and other attacks that might be going on at the same time. A good rule of thumb is to look for mitigation networks with at least 2-3 times the capacity of the largest attacks observed to date.

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Dedicated Capacity

It’s not enough, however, to just have a lot of capacity. It is also crucial that this capacity be dedicated to DDoS scrubbing. Many security providers – particularly those who take an ‘edge’ security approach – rely on their Content Distribution Network (CDN) capacity for DDoS mitigation, as well.

The problem, however, is that the majority of this traffic is already being utilized on a routine basis. CDN providers don’t like to pay for unused capacity, and therefore CDN bandwidth utilization rates routinely reach 60-70%, and can frequently reach up to 80% or more. This leaves very little room for ‘overflow’ traffic that can result from a large-scale volumetric DDoS attack.

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Therefore, it is much more prudent to focus on networks whose capacity is dedicated to DDoS scrubbing and segregated from other services such as CDN, WAF, or load-balancing.

Global Footprint

Organizations deploy DDoS mitigation solution in order to ensure the availability of their services. An increasingly important aspect of availability is speed of response. That is, the question is not only is the service available, but also how quickly can it respond?

Cloud-based DDoS protection services operate by routing customer traffic through the service providers’ scrubbing centers, removing any malicious traffic, and then forwarding clean traffic to the customer’s servers. As a result, this process inevitably adds a certain amount of latency to user communications.

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One of the key factors affecting latency is distance from the host. Therefore, in order to minimize latency, it is important for the scrubbing center to be as close as possible to the customer. This can only be achieved with a globally-distributed network, with a large number of scrubbing centers deployed at strategic communication hubs, where there is large-scale access to high-speed fiber connections.

As a result, when examining a DDoS protection network, it is important not just to look at capacity figures, but also at the number of scrubbing centers and their distribution.

Anycast Routing

A key component impacting response time is the quality of the network itself, and its back-end routing mechanisms. In order to ensure maximal speed and resilience, modern security networks are based on anycast-based routing.

Anycast-based routing establishes a one-to-many relationship between IP addresses and network nodes (i.e., there are multiple network nodes with the same IP address). When a request is sent to the network, the routing mechanism applies principles of least-cost-routing to determine which network node is the optimal destination.

Routing paths can be selected based on the number of hops, distance, latency, or path cost considerations. As a result, traffic from any given point will usually be routed to the nearest and fastest node.

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Anycast helps improve the speed and efficiency of traffic routing within the network. DDoS scrubbing networks based on anycast routing enjoy these benefits, which ultimately results in faster response and lower latency for end-users.

Multiple Redundancy

Finally, when selecting a DDoS scrubbing network, it is important to always have a backup. The whole point of a DDoS protection service is to ensure service availability. Therefore, you cannot have it – or any component in it – be a single point-of-failure. This means that every component within the security network must be backed up with multiple redundancy.

This includes not just multiple scrubbing centers and overflow capacity, but also requires redundancy in ISP links, routers, switches, load balancers, mitigation devices, and more.

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Only a network with full multiple redundancy for all components can ensure full service availability at all times, and guarantee that your DDoS mitigation service does not become a single point-of-failure of its own.

Ask the Questions

Alongside technology and service, the underlying network forms a critical part of a cloud security network. The five considerations above outline the key metrics by which you should evaluate the network powering potential DDoS protection services.

Ask your service provider – or any service provider that you are evaluating – about their capabilities with regards to each of these metrics, and if you don’t like the answer, then you should consider looking for alternatives.

Read “The Trust Factor: Cybersecurity’s Role in Sustaining Business Momentum” to learn more.

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Does Size Matter? Capacity Considerations When Selecting a DDoS Mitigation Service

May 2, 2019 — by Dileep Mishra1

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Internet pipes have gotten fatter in the last decade. We have gone from expensive 1 Mbps links to 1 Gbps links, which are available at a relatively low cost. Most enterprises have at least a 1 Gbps ISP link to their data center, many have multiple 1 Gbps links at each data center. In the past, QoS, packet shaping, application prioritization, etc., used to be a big deal, but now we just throw more capacity to solve any potential performance problems.

However, when it comes to protecting your infrastructure from DDoS attacks, 1 Gbps, 10Gbps or even 40Gbps is not enough capacity. This is because in 2019, even relatively small DDoS attacks are a few Gbps in size, and the larger ones are greater than 1 Tbps.

For this reason, when security professionals design a DDoS mitigation solution, one of the key considerations is the capacity of the DDoS mitigation service. That said, it isn’t easy to figure out which DDoS mitigation service actually has the capacity to withstand the largest DDoS attacks. This is because there are a range of DDoS mitigation solutions to pick from, and capacity is a parameter most vendors can spin to make their solution appear to be flush with capacity.

Let us examine some of the solutions available and understand the difference between their announced capacity and their real ability to block a large bandwidth DDoS attack.

On-premises DDoS Mitigation Appliances 

First of all, be wary of any Router, Switch, or Network Firewall which is also being positioned as a DDoS mitigation appliance. Chances are it does NOT have the ability to withstand a multi Gbps DDoS attack.

There are a handful of companies that make purpose built DDoS mitigation appliances. These devices are usually deployed at the edge of your network, as close as possible to the ISP link. Many of these devices canmitigate attacks which are in the 10s of Gbps, however, the advertised mitigation capacity is usually based on one particular attack vector with all attack packets being of a specific size.

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Irrespective of the vendor, don’t buy into 20/40/60 Gbps of mitigation capacity without quizzing the device’s ability to withstand a multi-vector attack, the real-world performance and its ability to pass clean traffic at a given throughput while also mitigating a large attack. Don’t forget, pps is sometimes more important than bps, and many devices will hit their pps limit first. Also be sure to delve into the internals of the attack mitigation appliance, in particular if the same CPU is used to mitigate an attack while passing normal traffic. The most effective devices have the attack “plane” segregated from the clean traffic “plane,” thus ensuring attack mitigation without affecting normal traffic.

Finally, please keep in mind that if your ISP link capacity is 1 Gbps and you have a DDoS mitigation appliance capable of 10Gbps of mitigation, you are NOT protected against a 10Gbps attack. This is because the attack will fill your pipe even before the on-premises device gets a chance to “scrub” the attack traffic.

Cloud-based Scrubbing Centers

The second type of DDoS mitigation solution that is widely deployed is a cloud-based scrubbing solution. Here, you don’t install a DDoS mitigation device at your data center. Rather, you use a DDoS mitigation service deployed in the cloud. With this type of solution, you send telemetry to the cloud service from your data center on a continuous basis, and when there is a spike that corresponds to a DDoS attack, you “divert” your traffic to the cloud service.

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There are a few vendors who provide this type of solution but again, when it comes to the capacity of the cloud DDoS service, the devil is in the details. Some vendors simply add the “net” capacity of all the ISP links they have at all their data centers. This is misleading because they may be adding the normal daily clean traffic to the advertised capacity — so ask about the available attack mitigation capacity, excluding the normal clean traffic.

Also, chances are the provider has different capacities in different scrubbing centers and the net capacity across all the scrubbing centers may not be a good reflection of the scrubbing center attack mitigation capacity  in the geography of your interest (where your data center is located).

Another item to inquire about is Anycast capabilities, because this gives the provider the ability to mitigate the attack close to the source. In other words, if a 100 Gbps attack is coming from China, it will be mitigated at the scrubbing center in APAC.

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Finally, it is important that the DDoS mitigation provider has a completely separate data path for clean traffic and does not mix clean customer traffic with attack traffic.

Content Distribution Networks

A third type of DDoS mitigation architecture is based upon leveraging a content distribution network (CDN) to diffuse large DDoS attacks. When it comes to the DDoS mitigation capacity of a CDN however, again, the situation is blurry.

Most CDNs have 10s, 100s, or 1000s of PoPs geographically distributed across the globe. Many simply count the net aggregate capacity across all of these PoPs and advertise that as the total attack mitigation capacity. This has two major flaws. It is quite likely that a real world DDoS attack is sourced from a limited number of geographical locations, in which case the capacity that really matters is the local CDN PoP capacity, not the global capacity at all the PoPs.

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Second, most CDNs pass a significant amount of normal customer traffic on all of the CDN nodes, so if a CDN service claims its attack mitigation capacity is 40 Tbps , it may be counting in 30Tbps of normal traffic. The question to ask is what is the total unused capacity, both on a net aggregate level as well as within a geographical region.

ISP Provider-based DDoS Mitigation

Many ISP providers offer DDoS mitigation as an add-on to the ISP pipe. It sounds like a natural choice, as they see all traffic coming into your data center even before it comes to your infrastructure, so it is best to block the attack within the ISP’s infrastructure – right?

Unfortunately, most ISPs have semi-adequate DDoS mitigation deployed within their own infrastructure and are likely to pass along the attack traffic to your data center. In fact, in some scenarios, some ISPs could actually black hole your traffic when you are under attack to protect their other customers who might be using a shared portion of their infrastructure. The question to ask your ISP is what happens if they see a 500Gbps attack coming towards your infrastructure and if there is any cap on the maximum attack traffic.

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All of the DDoS mitigation solutions discussed above are effective and are widely deployed. We don’t endorse or recommend one over the other. However, one should take any advertised attack mitigation capacity from any provider with a grain of salt. Quiz your provider on local capacity, differentiation between clean and attack traffic, any caps on attack, and any SLAs. Also, carefully examine vendor proposals for any exclusions.

Read “The Trust Factor: Cybersecurity’s Role in Sustaining Business Momentum” to learn more.

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Is It Legal to Evaluate a DDoS Mitigation Service?

March 27, 2019 — by Dileep Mishra5

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A couple of months ago, I was on a call with a company that was in the process of evaluating DDoS mitigation services to protect its data centers. This company runs mission critical applications and were looking for comprehensive coverage from various types of attacks, including volumetric, low and slow, encrypted floods, and application-layer attacks.

During the discussion, our team asked a series of technical questions related to their ISP links, types of applications, physical connectivity, and more. And we provided an attack demo using our sandbox lab in Mahwah.

Everything was moving along just fine until the customer asked us for a Proof of Concept (PoC), what most would consider a natural next step in the vendor evaluation process.

About That Proof of Concept…

How would you do a DDoS POC? You rack and stack the DDoS mitigation appliance (or enable the service if it is cloud based), set up some type of management IP address, configure the protection policies, and off you go!

Well, when we spoke to this company, they said they would be happy to do all of that–at their disaster recovery data center located within a large carrier facility on the east coast. This sent my antenna up and I immediately asked a couple of questions that would turn out to be extremely important for all of us: Do you have attack tools to launch DDoS attacks? Do you take the responsibility to run the attacks?  Well, the customer answered “yes” to both.

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Being a trained SE, I then asked why they needed to run the PoC in their lab and if there was a way we could demonstrate that our DDoS mitigation appliance can mitigate a wide range of attacks using our PoC script. As it turned out, the prospect was evaluating other vendors and, to compare apples to apples (thereby giving all vendors a fair chance), were already conducting a PoC in their data center with their appliance.

We shipped the PoC unit quickly and the prospect, true to their word, got the unit racked and stacked, cabled up ready to go. We configured the device then gave them the green light to launch attacks.  And then the prospect told us to launch the attacks; that they didn’t have any attack tools.

A Bad Idea

Well, most of us in this industry do have DDoS testing tools, so what’s the big deal? As vendors who provide cybersecurity solutions, we shouldn’t have any problems launching attacks over the Internet to test out a DDoS mitigation service…right?

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WRONG! Here’s why that’s a bad idea:

  • Launching attacks over the Internet is ILLEGAL. You need written permission from the entity being attacked to launch a DDoS attack. You can try your luck if you want, but this is akin to running a red light. You may get away with it, but if you are caught the repercussions are damaging and expensive.
  • Your ISP might block your IP address. Many ISPs have DDoS defenses within their infrastructure and if they see someone launching a malicious attack, they might block your access. Good luck sorting that one out with your ISP!
  • Your attacks may not reach the desired testing destination. Well, even if your ISP doesn’t block you and the FBI doesn’t come knocking, there might be one or more DDoS mitigation devices between you and the customer data center where the destination IP being tested resides. These devices could very well mitigate the attack you launch preventing you from doing the testing.

Those are three big reasons why doing DDoS testing in a production data center is, simply put, a bad idea. Especially if you don’t have a legal, easy way to generate attacks.

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A Better Way

So what are the alternatives? How should you do DDoS testing?

  • With DDoS testing, the focus should be on evaluating  the mitigation features – e.g. can the service detect attacks quickly, can it mitigate immediately, can it adapt to attacks that are morphing, can it report accurately on the attack it is seeing, and what is being mitigated, how accurate is the mitigation (what about false positives). If you run a DDoS PoC in a production environment, you will spend most of your resources and time on testing the connectivity and spinning the wheels on operational aspects (e.g. LAN cabling, console cabling, change control procedures, paperwork, etc.). This is not what you want to test; you want to test DDoS mitigation! It’s like  trying to test how fast a sports car can go on a very busy street. You will end up testing the brakes, but you won’t get very far with any speed testing.
  • Test things out in your lab. Even better, let the vendor test it in their lab for you. This will let both parties focus on the security features rather than get caught up with the headaches of logistics involved with shipping, change control, physical cabling, connectivity, routing etc.
  • It is perfectly legal to use test tools like Kali Linux, Backtrack etc. within a lab environment. Launch attacks to your heart’s content, morph the attacks, see how the DDoS service responds.
  • If you don’t have the time or expertise to launch attacks yourself, hire a DDoS testing service. Companies like activereach, Redwolf security or MazeBolt security do this for a living, and they can help you test the DDoS mitigation service with a wide array of customized attacks. This will cost you some money, but if you are serious about the deployment, you will be doing yourself a favor and saving future work.
  • Finally, evaluate multiple vendors in parallel. You can never do this in a production data center. However, in a lab you can keep the attacks and the victim applications constant, while just swapping in the DDoS mitigation service. This will give you an apples-to-apples comparison of the actual capabilities of each vendor and will also shorten your evaluation cycle.

Read “The Trust Factor: Cybersecurity’s Role in Sustaining Business Momentum” to learn more.

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DDoS Protection Requires Looking Both Ways

March 26, 2019 — by Eyal Arazi1

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Service availability is a key component of the user experience. Customers expect services to be constantly available and fast-responding, and any downtime can result in disappointed users, abandoned shopping carts, and lost customers.

Consequently, DDoS attacks are increasing in complexity, size and duration. Radware’s 2018 Global Application and Network Security Report found that over the course of a year, sophisticated DDoS attacks, such as burst attacks, increased by 15%, HTTPS floods grew by 20%, and over 64% of customers were hit by application-layer (L7) DDoS attacks.

Some Attacks are a Two-Way Street

As DDoS attacks become more complex, organizations require more elaborate protections to mitigate such attacks. However, in order to guarantee complete protection, many types of attacks – particularly the more sophisticated ones – require visibility into both inbound and outbound channels.

Some examples of such attacks include:

Out of State Protocol Attacks: Some DDoS attacks exploit weaknesses in protocol communication processes, such as TCP’s three-way handshake sequence, to create ‘out-of-state’ connection requests, thereby drawing-out connection requests in order to exhaust server resources. While some attacks of this type, such as a SYN flood, can be stopped by examining the inbound channel only, others require visibility into the outbound channel, as well.

An example of this is an ACK flood, whereby attackers continuously send forged TCP ACK packets towards the victim host. The target host then tries to associate the ACK reply to an existing TCP connection, and if none such exists, it will drop the packet. However, this process consumes server resources, and large numbers of such requests can deplete system resources. In order to correctly identify and mitigate such attacks, defenses need visibility to both inbound SYN and outbound SYN/ACK replies, so that they can verify whether the ACK packet is associated with any legitimate connection request.

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Reflection/Amplification Attacks: Such attacks exploit asymmetric responses between the connection requests and replies of certain protocols or applications. Again, some types of such attacks require visibility into both the inbound and outbound traffic channels.

An example of such attack is a large-file outbound pipe saturation attack. In such attacks, the attackers identify a very large file on the target network, and send a connection request to fetch it. The connection request itself can be only a few bytes in size, but the ensuing reply could be extremely large. Large amounts of such requests can clog-up the outbound pipe.

Another example are memcached amplification attacks. Although such attacks are most frequently used to overwhelm a third-party target via reflection, they can also be used to saturate the outbound channel of the targeted network.

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Scanning Attacks: Large-scale network scanning attempts are not just a security risk, but also frequently bear the hallmark of a DDoS attack, flooding the network with malicious traffic. Such scan attempts are based on sending large numbers of connection requests to host ports, and seeing which ports answer back (thereby indicating that they are open). However, this also leads to high volumes of error responses by closed ports. Mitigation of such attacks requires visibility into return traffic in order to identify the error response rate relative to actual traffic, in order for defenses to conclude that an attack is taking place.

Server Cracking: Similar to scanning attacks, server cracking attacks involve sending large amounts of requests in order to brute-force system passwords. Similarly, this leads to a high error reply rate, which requires visibility into both the inbound and outbound channels in order to identify the attack.

Stateful Application-Layer DDoS Attacks: Certain types of application-layer (L7) DDoS attacks exploit known protocol weaknesses or order to create large amounts of spoofed requests which exhaust server resources. Mitigating such attacks requires state-aware bi-directional visibility in order to identify attack patterns, so that the relevant attack signature can be applied to block it. Examples of such attacks are low-and-slow and application-layer (L7) SYN floods, which draw-out HTTP and TCP connections in order to continuously consume server resources.

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Two-Way Attacks Require Bi-Directional Defenses

As online service availability becomes ever-more important, hackers are coming up with more sophisticated attacks than ever in order to overwhelm defenses. Many such attack vectors – frequently the more sophisticated and potent ones – either target or take advantages of the outbound communication channel.

Therefore, in order for organizations to fully protect themselves, they must deploy protections that allow bi-directional inspection of traffic in order to identify and neutralize such threats.

Read “The Trust Factor: Cybersecurity’s Role in Sustaining Business Momentum” to learn more.

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