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Criminal benefits: profit margin of a DDoS attack can reach 95%
March 24, 2017

Kaspersky Lab’s researchers have discovered the full extent of the profit margins benefiting criminals from DDoS services that are available on the black market.

Kaspersky Lab’s experts have studied the DDoS services available on the black market and determined just how far this illegal business has advanced, as well as the extent of its popularity and profitability.

The worrying news is that arranging an attack costs as little as $7 an hour, while the targeted company can end up losing thousands, if not millions, of dollars.

The level of service involved when arranging a DDoS attack on the black market is not very different from that of a legal business. The only difference is that there’s no direct contact between the provider and the customer.

The ‘service providers’ offer a convenient site where customers, after registering, can select the service they need, pay for it, and receive a report about the attacks. In some cases, there is even a customer loyalty program, with clients receiving rewards or bonus points for each attack.

There are a number of factors that affect the cost for the customer. One is the type of attack and its source: for example, a botnet made up of popular IoT devices is cheaper than a botnet of servers.

However, not all those providing attack services are ready to specify such details. Another factor is the duration of the attack (measured in seconds, hours and days), and the client’s location. DDoS attacks on English-language websites, for example, are usually more expensive than similar attacks on Russian-language sites.

Another big factor affecting the cost is the type of victim. Attacks on government websites and resources protected by dedicated anti-DDoS solutions are much more expensive, as the former are high risk, while the latter are more difficult to attack.

For instance, on one DDoS-as-a-service website, the cost of an attack on an unprotected website ranges from $50 to $100, while an attack on a protected site costs $400 or more.

It means a DDoS attack can cost anything from $5 for a 300-second attack, to $400 for 24 hours. The average price for an attack is around $25 per hour. Kaspersky Lab’s experts were also able to calculate that an attack using a cloud-based botnet of 1000 desktops is likely to cost the providers about $7 per hour.

That means the cybercriminals organising DDoS attacks are making a profit of around $18 per hour.

There is, however, yet another scenario that offers greater profitability for cybercriminals – it involves the attackers demanding a ransom from a target in return for not launching a DDoS attack, or to call off an ongoing attack.

The ransom can be the bitcoin equivalent of thousands of dollars, meaning the profitability of a single attack can exceed 95 per cent. In fact, those carrying out the blackmail don’t even need to have the resources to launch an attack – sometimes the mere threat is enough.

“We expect the profitability of DDoS attacks to continue to grow. As a result, will see them increasingly used to extort, disrupt and mask other more intrusive attacks on businesses. Worryingly, small and medium sized businesses are not confident in their knowledge of how to combat these threats effectively. The longest DDoS attack in 2016 lasted 292 hours according to Kaspersky Lab’s research, or about 12 days,” said says Russ Madley, head of B2B at Kaspersky Lab UK.

“Most online businesses can ill-afford to have their ‘doors closed’ for even an hour, let alone for 292 hours, as criminals take advantage of their poor defences. Companies that host these online sites are also under attack on a daily basis. The channel has a significant opportunity with our help to identify risks, provide strategic advice and deliver the right solutions to customers to prevent damaging DDoS attacks.”

Interestingly, some cybercriminals have no scruples about selling DDoS attacks alongside protection from them. Kaspersky Lab’s experts, however, do not recommend using criminal services.

Source: http://www.information-age.com/connected-cities-suffer-catastrophic-blackouts-123465253/

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The Short List of Who Protects Companies Against DDoS Attacks
March 23, 2017

Here’s a question: when was the last time you got something truly useful for free? Like that time it turned out your phone company was giving you mobile data even though it wasn’t included in the plan you selected, or that time you turned up at the car dealership for a major repair, and they informed you the cost was covered because you’re just such a great customer.

Oh right: it was never.

So why is it that so many companies seem to think somebody else is responsible for protecting them against distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks? DDoS mitigation is an important and complex service that requires careful expertise, on-demand or always-on deployment, nearly limitless scalability and huge amounts of network bandwidth. If a company hasn’t taken the steps to invest in this kind of protection, they don’t have it.

Attack overview
A DDoS attack is a distributed denial of service attack, which is a cyberattack that uses a botnet, a network of internet-connected devices that have been hijacked for remote use, to direct large amounts of malicious traffic at a website that has been targeted. This traffic overwhelms the website, its server or its resources to take it offline or render it so frustratingly slow it can’t be used.

Distributed denial of service attacks have been a problem for websites and organizations of all sizes for over 15 years, and the problem is becoming a crisis as DDoS for hire services steadily gain popularity, and botnets steadily gain in size due to unsecured Internet of Things devices. For larger organizations, a successful DDoS attack can cost between $20,000 and $100,000 per hour, and while unquantifiable, the loss of user trust or loyalty that can result from such an attack can be even worse.

Erroneous assumptions
DDoS attacks haven’t exactly been flying under the radar lately. Their frequency, as well as the threat they pose, should be well known to anyone working in online security. Yet a recent survey by Kaspersky uncovered some staggering statistics. Thirty percent of companies surveyed indicated that they haven’t taken action against the threat of DDoS attacks because they believe they won’t be targeted, 40% believe their ISP will provide protection, and a further 30% believe data centers will provide protection. Perhaps most misguided of all, 12% believe a small amount of DDoS-caused downtime would not have a negative impact on the company.

Why ISPs won’t provide complete protection
While some ISPs do provide complete DDoS protection as an added service that clients pay good money for, most provide only partial protection. Due to the large amounts of bandwidth an ISP has available, they can do well against large volumetric attacks, but craftier application layer attacks are a problem. Also, while ISPs can be good at identifying malicious traffic, they don’t deal with that malicious traffic efficiently, meaning that while it’s struggling to deal with an influx of malicious traffic, legitimate traffic will be caught in the bottleneck with it or even discarded alongside the bad traffic, resulting in users unable to get through to the website. In other words, while a basic DDoS attack could be thwarted by an ISP, the result – users unable to access the website – ends up being the same.

Further, some DDoS attacks like the Slowloris are made up of traffic and requests that are seemingly legitimate, making them difficult to detect for even some intrusion detection systems, let alone an ISP.

Perhaps the biggest problem with relying on an ISP for protection is that regardless of what type of attack is launched, there isn’t going to be a quick response from an ISP. They aren’t built for the kind of real-time monitoring and deployment that can catch an attack within seconds. Most often, it will be several hours before an ISP begins to deal with an attack. By then, the damage is done.

Why data centers won’t provide complete protection either
There’s a caveat here: just as with ISPs, some data centers do provide complete protection against distributed denial of service attacks, but again it is an added service that definitely adds to the data center bill. Similar to ISPs, data centers do provide some measure of DDoS protection, but it can generally only protect against basic attacks that can be stopped with rate limiters, or attacks that are not directly aimed at an application service. Large or complex attacks cannot be stopped by basic data center protection.

Moreover, not only do ISPs and data centers not provide complete protection against DDoS attacks, but they also put their clients at a bigger risk of second-hand DDoS damage. If an ISP or data center is struggling with a large or complex attack, websites that weren’t targeted will nonetheless suffer the effects.

A-Z protection
Professional DDoS protection is built to provide the quickest, most proactive and most complete protection against distributed denial of service attacks. Cloud-based protection is especially excellent at protecting against both network-layer and application-layer attacks, and with the use of a scrubbing server, attack traffic will be kept from ever touching the target website while legitimate traffic is let through unfettered.

For companies after a more bang-for-their-buck solution, it may be preferable to look into a quality content delivery network (CDN). CDNs are designed to improve site speed and performance, and all CDNs offer some level of DDoS protection due to the built-in load balancing that comes from their multi-server environments. However, CDNs will also offer additional DDoS protection on top of that.

High-quality distributed denial of service protection won’t become a freebie or throw-in until the internet reaches a phase where there’s something so much worse and so much more common than DDoS attacks that they become almost after-thoughts for all the malicious cyberattackers out there. So companies can either root for that reality, or take protection into their own hands by investing in solid DDoS protection.

Source: http://www.iotevolutionworld.com/iot/articles/430637-short-list-who-protects-companies-against-ddos-attacks.htm

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Servers hosting Daphne Caruana Galizia’s website suffer ‘unprecedented’ DDoS attack
March 23, 2017

The servers hosting Daphne Caruana Galizia’s personal blog have suffered a DDoS attack.

A DDos (denial of service) attack occurs when many systems flood the bandwidth of a targeted system, in an attempt to make the online service unavailable.

Mrs Caruana Galizia does not yet know who is behind the attack, but did say it is highly likely to be a person of Maltese nationality..

Prior to the DDoS attack on the servers, she said, a fake Gmail account was setup – similar to her personal email address. The person who created the account, then emailed two persons working for the company who handle software support for the website, and tried to acquire information required to hack the site through them.

This, however, did not work and the software support personnel realised that it was not Mrs Caruana Galizia’s email address, and also the use of broken English in the email. This, she said, is what led her to believe that the person behind the attack is Maltese. The police were contacted aftewr the DDOS attack occurred later, and an investigation is ongoing.

The fake Gmail address used a proxy server, and thus far no culprit has been identified, she said. She explained that aside from the crime involving the DDoS attack, impersonation is also a crime.

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Vanilla Communications, a server hosting company owned by David Thake, hosts Daphne Caruana Galizia’s personal blog – a service that she pays for each month, she said. In a Facebook post, Mr Thake said that the servers hosting her website suffered a DDoS attack which he called “unprecedented in scale.”

Mr Thake, in his post, said the attack brought the network to its knees.

Source: http://www.independent.com.mt/articles/2017-03-21/local-news/Servers-hosting-Daphne-Caruana-Galizia-s-website-suffer-unprecedented-DDOS-attack-6736171884

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Russian bank Alfa Says it was Under DNS Botnet Attacks
March 21, 2017

The Russian banking giant Alfa announced, in a press statement, that hackers targeted its cyber infrastructure in a large-scale DNS Botnet attack. The purpose appears to have been to make it seem as though the bank had been communicating with the Trump Organization. The bank is now asking U.S. to assist it to uncover the culprits.

On Friday, the bank revealed that their servers were under three cyber attacks targeting the domain name server (DNS) since mid-February. It is unclear who was behind these attacks; the details show unknown hackers allegedly used Amazon and Google servers to send requests to a Trump Organization server posing to look like they came from Alfa Bank, pushing the Trump server to respond back to the bank.

An Alfa Bank spokesperson said: “The cyber attacks are an attempt by unknown parties to manufacture the illusion of contact between Alfa Bank’s DNS servers and ’Trump servers’’.

Furthermore, Alfa Bank revealed that it is ready to work with the U.S. law enforcement agency to identify the individuals involved in the campaign. The bank has already hired Stroz Friedberg, a US-based cyber security firm to get into the depth of the matter.

“The cyber attacks are an attempt by unknown parties to manufacture the illusion of contact between Alfa Bank’s DNS servers and ‘Trump servers,” an Alfa Bank representative said in a statement. “We have gone to the U.S. Justice Department and offered our complete cooperation to get to the bottom of this sham and fraud.”

On February 18, 2017, the bank claims it experienced suspicious cyber activity from an unidentified third-party. Specifically, the unidentified third-party repeatedly sent suspicious DNS queries from servers in the U.S. to a Trump Organization server. The unidentified individuals made it look as though these queries originated from variants of MOSCow.ALFAintRa.nET.

The use of upper and lower case indicated the human intervention in the process. Moreover, Alfa Bank says it received more than 1,340 DNS responses containing mail.trump-email.com.moscow.alfaintra.net.

Last week, CNN reported that the FBI’s counterintelligence team was investigating if there was a computer server connection between the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank during the U.S. election, according to sources close to the investigation. The bank has now denied that there was ever a conversation between both parties.

Mark McArdle, CTO at cyber security company eSentire commented on the issue and said that:

“A botnet is typically associated with an attack that leverages scale, as it can employ thousands (potentially millions with IoT devices) of devices and use them to coordinate an attack on a target. We’ve seen this with some big DDoS attacks. We also see botnets being used as platforms for large-scale spamming. However, the number of DNS connections reported in the Alfa Bank attacks (1,340 in once case) don’t indicate massive scale. A botnet, however, can be used to add another layer of obfuscation between you and your attacker. Following the breadcrumbs back could bring you to a PVR that has been hacked and is now part of a botnet. I suspect in this case, the botnet is being used more for obfuscation of identity than scale. The attackers may be using a botnet to send spoofed DNS requests to a legitimate Trump server using a spoofed “reply-to” address inside Alfa-Bank’s infrastructure.

Spoofing DNS lookups is not very difficult since DNS is not authenticated, and the ability to spoof source addresses is unfortunately still available – all you need is a system to launch your attack from that is connected to the Internet via an ISP that doesn’t filter out spoofed source addresses. While this type of attack has been around for a while, what’s new in this case is that someone is using it to try and contrive evidence of a relationship where neither party sought one.

Additionally, there is also reference in Alfa Bank’s statement about Spam messages from marketing@trumphotels.com. It’s also possible to spoof email (spammers do this all the time). A spoofed email could include a reference to a legitimate Trump Org server and a real connection would be established if a user clicked on it (or selected “show images” in the email). Again, this does not mean the email came from Trump Org, just that it was sent in order to attempt to solicit “a connection” between Trump Org and Alfa-Bank.”

Either way, identity is difficult to determine unless cryptographic certificates are used, and ultimate hack attribution is even more difficult.

This is not the first time that allegations surrounding Trump’s relations with Russia have emerged. Some believe Russia hacked the US election to give Trump a way to win the presidency while some believe that Russian media was involved in spreading fake news against Trump’s opponent Hillary Clinton. Either way, nothing has been proven yet.

Source: https://www.hackread.com/russia-alfa-bank-target-with-dns-botnet-attacks/

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Nine Ways To Protect Your Technology Company From DDoS Attacks
March 16, 2017

DDoS attacks can wreak havoc on your company’s efficiency if you’re not careful. The Mirai botnet — malware that can be used for large-scale network attacks — can often go undetected due to common oversights and lack of preparation. It may be daunting to think about how IoT devices that make your company run smoothly can be used against you; however, it doesn’t take much time to set up multiple precautions to prevent it.

Below, executives from Forbes Technology Council highlight simple and cost-effective ways that you can safeguard your company from baleful botnets.

1. Start By Looking At Your Infrastructure

There are many botnets, Mirai just happens to be one of the largest known ones. Technology companies need to start developing more secure products rather than security being an afterthought. Firms need to look at their internet infrastructure to funnel botnet traffic away from their core business to enable the business to function when these attacks occur. – Heeren Pathak, Vestmark

2. Understand That Anyone Can Be A Target

It’s very important to understand that anyone can be a target, no matter if you are a big or small company. If being offline just for a few minutes can cause a big economical impact, then you definitely should find a trusted partner that offers good solutions to mitigate against DDoS attacks. There are some companies offering this kind of service, but a quick Google search should be handy. – Cesar Cerrudo, IOActive

3. Choose The Right Hosting Partners

No matter your line of business, your public-facing websites are potential targets of massive DDoS attacks. For business without a dedicated team of security experts, it’s important to choose the right hosting partners. For many customers of AWS, you automatically received free protection against some forms of attacks similar to Mirai botnet with the release of AWS Shield in December of 2016. – Jamey Taylor, Ticketbiscuit, LLC

 4. Monitor Your Traffic

Companies need to be skeptical of any device they have hanging on their networks. The average company now needs to apply firewall rules on a device-by-device basis, anticipating the possibility of a printer, web camera or AV control system becoming infected. Smart traffic monitoring software and methods of quarantining devices should be commonplace. – Chris Kirby, Voices.com

5. Set Strong, Custom Passwords

IT security organizations should ensure their IoT devices have no direct public management access from outside the network. If an IoT device must be managed remotely through publicly accessible IPs, change the management password on the device from the default to a strong, custom one. IT admins need to put intrusion prevention, gateway anti-malware and network sandbox solutions at the network perimeter. – Bill Conner, SonicWall

6. Don’t Rely On The Internet

Nearly all consumer products are computer-based in today’s marketplace, which makes reliance on the internet dangerous to a product’s infrastructure. That said, Cloudflare, Akamai and Dynect are solution services that will act as a protective wall for your servers and prevent large-scale network attacks. – Pin Chen, ONTRAPORT

7. Have The Right Company Policies In Place

Technology companies should have policies in place to make sure IoT devices default factory credentials are changed as soon as they are procured. Will this guarantee they will never get infected with Mirai botnet? No. But this basic step along with modifying factory default privacy and security settings, firmware updates, audits, etc. will reduce the chances of an IoT device being infected. – Kartik Agarwal, TechnoSIP Inc

 8. Cooperate And Act

Mirai shows how an internet of everything can cause new kinds of net-quakes. Attackers can fire so much hostile traffic at one target that it takes down entirely unrelated sites nearby, in effect, causing major collateral damage. Unfortunately, there’s no simple defensive fix — it takes cooperation and active network control to deflect traffic tsunamis. – Mike Lloyd, RedSeal

9. Be Prepared

Large-scale network attacks are not going away, and technology companies need to ensure they’re prepared. Doing a security audit of what protections are currently in place, and looking for existing holes that need to be plugged, is a good place to start. Also, make sure any IoT devices used at your company have security in place to prevent them from becoming part of this bot army. – Neill Feather, SiteLock

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2017/03/16/nine-ways-to-protect-your-technology-company-from-ddos-attacks/2/#73d67f6a7178