Staminus Blog

Articles, Thoughts, and Speculations from the Staff
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Sanctions and Cyber Attacks: 2015 Brings Changes for DDoS

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The Obama administration recently launched a program to aid in the battle against overseas cyber criminals. Under the newly signed executive order, those cyber criminals can be sanctioned, having their assets and other financial transactions frozen. The order focuses on foreign nationals that launch cyber attacks that threaten U.S. interests. The program is fairly broad, and like many anti-terrorism laws, highly discretionary. The federal government is pulling out the stops to help the onslaught of what feels like a global cyber war on Western companies. Many have been crying for federal help. This is a step in that direction.

For many around the world, cyber security (especially DDoS mitigation) companies and the field of information security, this has very important ramifications. The potential overreach and compliance issues can have dramatic impact.

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Academic Testing and DDoS: Why Schools Are Taking Hard Hits This Spring

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We’ve seen a new crop of DDoS attacks against school districts and universities this spring, to such an extent that many of these organizations are rescheduling their testing of students entirely. Notably amongst these have been  Minnesota’s Department of Education, and again this week at Rutgers University, with the latter outage persisting through the weekend into the next week. It’s not confined to any particular region either, as we’re seeing things crop up in California, Colorado, Ohio, and other states.

But why the sudden onslaught? Sure, it’s testing season, and if the opportunity rises to cancel an exam, a student might be sorely tempted to make that happen. To some, it’s no different than pulling a fire alarm to burn time and in some respects, that’s exactly what it is. However, it doesn’t account for the frequency in comparison to the years prior, where DDoS was just as doable for an internet savvy student. Everything from YouTube instructions to walkthroughs have existed purely for this purpose for a few years now.

While we’ve covered the how and why of DDoS-ing schools and universities in a previous blog post, we thought it was interesting to revisit just how much we’ve seen it happening this year so far. We think the answer is likely simple,  and surprisingly not technical. Convenience and awareness. Read More

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The Great Firewall of China: Fears Realized

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A couple of months ago, I wrote an article about how the Great Firewall of China, due to a code glitch, ended up sending out massive DDoS attacks. This obviously spells danger if it falls into the wrong hands and is misused. Last week, GitHub fell prey to a large DDoS attack that caused intermittent issues with their service for over four days. What was this DDoS attack all about? Why did it happen?

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SNMP Attacks: The Big Thing of Today

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First, there was DNS. Open DNS resolvers were exploited to generate massive DDoS attacks. Over time, most of these open DNS resolvers were patched so that they would not reply to unknown DNS requests. Then, there was NTP. Just like DNS, but at a much larger amplification factor, DDoS attackers were able to generate very large attacks. And just like DNS, over time exploitable NTP servers were mostly patched, making it significantly harder to generate the huge attacks that were wreaking havoc on the Internet. Although DNS and NTP amplification attacks still exist, they are much harder to execute and are nowhere near as large as they used to be. But now, SNMP amplification attacks are on the rise.

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Service Providers and DDoS

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Most often when we hear about DDoS, we focus on the target of the attack. The target is generally going to be someone providing an application service to the world – such as a video game, a website, a VoIP server, or other publicly desired service. This could be on one server for a small player in the space or it could be spread across thousands of servers for someone like Sony. In both cases, the service can be dramatically affected with the right kind of DDoS attack. The service providers that carry the traffic very seldom are concerned about the DDoS as they’re simply conduits on the Internet connecting one network to another. They carry traffic and deliver it to its destination on demand. They have sufficient capacity to do this.

But what happens when they don’t? What happens when the carrier is crushed by the sheer power of the attack? If an attack is sufficiently large, can it actually impact a service provider or carrier? More importantly, what happens when the carriers are the culprits of the DDoS attack, being used against their will to engage in widespread nefarious activities?

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IPv4, IPv6 and DDoS, Part 1: How IPv4 Works

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Just about everyone has heard of an IP address, and most people have some basic knowledge of what an IP address is. 192.168.1.1 is the standard gateyway that home routers use, for example. The first time you go to configure a home router, you put that IP address into your web browser. The format WWW.XXX.YYY.ZZZ is known as IPv4 format. The total number of IPs in the IPv4 IP space is 2^32 power. That sounds like a lot, but it’s really not. IPv4 depletion, as it’s known, refers to the fact that the world is running out of IPv4 IPs to give out to people. Currently, there’s less than 1% of the total IPv4 IP space left. Read More

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DDoS from the Most Unlikely of Places

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“Smart” technology is all the rage these days. Everyone I know has a smart phone. They do their work from it remotely, they video chat with their family in other countries; it has basically become one of those can’t-leave-home-without-it type of  devices. “Smart” simply signifies that the device is internet ready. You can connect out from it, or into it. What does this mean for the future? How will DDoS play a role in the upcoming years as a result of smart devices?

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DDoS Stress Testers – Part 2

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In part 1 of this series, we’ve explained what stressers are, how they work, and where they got their start. What can be said for the early years is that the level of work required to hire someone to use a DDoS attack made it a lot more prohibitive. Bandwidth was expensive, the resources hard to find, and the overall affect was lackluster in comparison to the effort required. If you weren’t capable of using a DDoS attack yourself, chances are you weren’t going to hire one either.

Today, anyone can use Google to find a stress tester and be offered a large number of options, for incredibly cheap prices. It’s gaining ground in business, gaming, finances, and sometimes just for fun, which is having a truly damaging impact on companies and customers. What a difference a decade can make! What changed? In today’s article, I will discuss in a bit more detail why there are so many stress testers around now.

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