The first DDoS attack was 20 years ago. This is what we’ve learned since.

On the 20th anniversary of the first distributed denial of service attack, cybersecurity experts say the internet must be redesigned to prevent them.

July 22, 1999, is an ominous date in the history of computing. On that day, a computer at the University of Minnesota suddenly came under attack from a network of 114 other computers infected with a malicious script called Trin00.

This code caused the infected computers to send superfluous data packets to the university, overwhelming its computer and preventing it handling legitimate requests. In this way, the attack knocked out the university computer for two days.

This was the world’s first distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. But it didn’t take long for the tactic to spread. In the months that followed, numerous other websites became victims, including Yahoo, Amazon, and CNN. Each was flooded with data packets that prevented it from accepting legitimate traffic. And in each case, the malicious data packets came from a network of infected computers.

Since then, DDoS attacks have become common. Malicious actors also make a lucrative trade in extorting protection money from websites they threaten to attack. They even sell their services on the dark web. A 24-hour DDoS attack against a single target can cost as little as $400.

But the cost to the victim can be huge in terms of lost revenue or damaged reputation. That in turn has created a market for cyberdefense that protects against these kinds of attacks. In 2018, this market was worth a staggering €2 billion. All this raises the important question of whether more can be done to defend against DDoS attacks.

Today, 20 years after the first attack, Eric Osterweil from George Mason University in Virginia and colleagues explore the nature of DDoS attacks, how they have evolved, and whether there are foundational problems with network architecture that need to be addressed to make it safer. The answers, they say, are far from straightforward: “The landscape of cheap, compromisable, bots has only become more fertile to miscreants, and more damaging to Internet service operators.”

First some background. DDoS attacks usually unfold in stages. In the first stage, a malicious intruder infects a computer with software designed to spread across a network. This first computer is known as the “master,” because it can control any subsequent computers that become infected. The other infected computers carry out the actual attack and are known as “daemons.”

Common victims at this first stage are university or college computer networks, because they are connected to a wide range of other devices.

A DDoS attack begins when the master computer sends a command to the daemons that includes the address of the target. The daemons then start sending large numbers of data packets to this address. The goal is to overwhelm the target with traffic for the duration of the attack. The largest attacks today send malicious data packets at a rate of terabits per second.

The attackers often go to considerable lengths to hide their location and identity. For example, the daemons often use a technique called IP address spoofing to hide their address on the internet. Master computers can also be difficult to trace because they need only send a single command to trigger an attack. And an attacker can choose to use daemons only in countries that are difficult to access, even though they themselves may be located elsewhere.

Defending against these kinds of attacks is hard because it requires concerted actions by a range of operators. The first line of defense is to prevent the creation of the daemon network in the first place. This requires system administrators to regularly update and patch the software they use and to encourage good hygiene among users of their network—for example, regularly changing passwords, using personal firewalls, and so on.

Internet service providers can also provide some defense. Their role is in forwarding data packets from one part of a network to another, depending on the address in each data packet’s header. This is often done with little or no consideration for where the data packet came from.

But that could change. The header contains not only the target address but also the source address. So in theory, it is possible for an ISP to examine the source address and block packets that contain obviously spoofed sources.

However, this is computationally expensive and time consuming. And since the ISPs are not necessarily the targets in a DDoS attack, they have limited incentive to employ expensive mitigation procedures.

Finally, the target itself can take steps to mitigate the effects of an attack. One obvious step is to filter out the bad data packets as they arrive. That works if they are easy to spot and if the computational resources are in place to cope with the volume of malicious traffic.

But these resources are expensive and must be continually updated with the latest threats. They sit unused most of the time, springing into action only when an attack occurs. And even then, they may not cope with the biggest attacks. So this kind of mitigation is rare.

Another option is to outsource the problem to a cloud-based service that is better equipped to handle such threats. This centralizes the problems of DDoS mitigation in “scrubbing centers,” and many cope well. But even these can have trouble dealing with the largest attacks.

All that raises the question of whether more can be done. “How can our network infrastructure be enhanced to address the principles that enable the DDoS problem?” ask Osterweil and co. And they say the 20th anniversary of the first attack should offer a good opportunity to study the problem in more detail. “We believe that what is needed are investigations into what fundamentals enable and exacerbate DDoS,” they say.

One important observation about DDoS attacks is that the attack and the defense are asymmetric. A DDoS attack is typically launched from many daemons all over the world, and yet the defense takes place largely at a single location—the node that is under attack.

An important question is whether networks could or should be modified to include a kind of distributed defense against these attacks.  For example, one way forward might be to make it easier for ISPs to filter out spoofed data packets.

Another idea is to make data packets traceable as they travel across the internet. Each ISP could mark a sample of data packets—perhaps one in 20,000—as they are routed so that their journey could later be reconstructed. That would allow the victim and law enforcement agencies to track the source of an attack, even after it has ended.

These and other ideas have the potential to make the internet a safer place. But they require agreement and willingness to act. Osterweil and co think the time is ripe for action: “This is a call to action: the research community is our best hope and best qualified to take up this call.”

Ref: arxiv.org/abs/1904.02739 : 20 Years of DDoS: A Call to Action

 Source: https://www.technologyreview.com/s/613331/the-first-ddos-attack-was-20-years-ago-this-is-what-weve-learned-since/
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Ecuador Claims It Suffered 40 Million Cyber Attacks Since Julian Assange’s Arrest

Five days ago, Ecuador revoked Julian Assange’s 7-year long asylum and turned him over to the UK authorities, which promptly arrested the Wikileaks chief.

Since then, Ecuador claims to be under siege from Assange supporters and “groups linked” to him.

Patricio Real, Ecuador’s deputy minister for information and communication technology, said in a statement that the webpages for his country’s public institutions experienced 40 million cyber-attacks.

Among the hardest hit were pages for the central bank, the foreign ministry and the president’s office.

“During the afternoon of April 11 we jumped from 51st place to 31st place worldwide in terms of the volume of cyber attacks,” he said.

The deputy minister said that the attacks “principally come from the United States, Brazil, Holland, Germany, Romania, France, Austria and the United Kingdom,” but that countries from South America also show up on the list.

No major hacking groups were named in Ecuador’s statement, though famed Anonymous apparently made a threat.

Real also didn’t specify what type of attacks Ecuador’s website experience. He mentioned that no hacker managed to steal government data but that the attacks prevented some employees and citizens from accessing their accounts.

As Real called the attacks “volumetric,” he most likely referred to a type of DDoS attack in which hackers send a lot of traffic to a website hoping to overwhelm it.

While this is a serious threat to a network, the attack itself can be perpetrated even by those without a lot of technical knowledge.

Ecuador will receive cybersecurity support from Israel to handle the incidents. It has also made motions to arrest a suspect, Swedish citizen close to Assange.

Right now, Julian Assange is in the UK authorities’ hands and waiting to see if he will be extradited to the US to face conspiracy charges.

He was also stripped of his Ecuador citizenship, which was granted in 2017 under a different Ecuadorian regime.

Source: https://techthelead.com/ecuador-claims-it-suffered-40-million-cyber-attacks-since-julian-assanges-arrest/

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DOSarrest Launches New Cloud Based Network Traffic Analyzer Service

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, March 19, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — DOSarrest Internet Security announced today that they have released a new service offering called DOSarrest Traffic Analyzer (DTA). This new service allows subscribers to send their Netflow, Sflow or Jflow network data from their routers and switches to DOSarrest’s Big Data cluster, then login to their portal and graphically see what types and volumes of traffic are flowing in and out of their networks in almost real-time. Using this traffic intelligence, network operators can pinpoint the cause of any congestion, create their own ACLs to white-list or black-list any malicious networks. It gives engineers the intelligence they need to understand how their network is being used and for what purpose.

Some of the real-time graphical and historical information available in the dashboard is

Top 10 Source Countries
Top 10 Source Networks
Top 10 Source ASNs
Top 10 Source Netblocks
Top 10 Destination IPs
Top 10 Destination IPs
Top 10 Protocols and Ports

DOSarrest CTO, Jag Bains states, “I have been running Internet backbones for over 20 years and having something that is this cost effective has always been a problem, most solutions require expensive hardware and licensing or extensive software development. Setup is easy with DTA, just add 1 line to the router config and you’re done.”

This new service can also be combined with DOSarrest’s existing DDoS protection for network infrastructure service, where customers, using the same dashboard can automatically stop any DDoS attack on a customer’s data center or corporate network.

CEO Mark Teolis adds, “This service is really in its infancy, we are already working on version 2 and we plan on releasing a new version every 90 days thereafter. Once the network flow information is in the big data platform, there’s so much that can be done to extract network intelligence, it’s almost impossible to predict today what and how it can help network operators going forward. We are starting to test with some machine learning models to see what it can do.”

About DOSarrest Internet Security:
DOSarrest founded in 2007 in Vancouver, B.C., Canada specializes in fully managed cloud based Internet security services including DDoS protection services, Data Center Defender (DCD), Web Application Firewall (WAF), DDoS Attack testing, as well as cloud based global load balancing.

More information at http://www.DOSarrest.com

Source: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/dosarrest-launches-new-cloud-based-network-traffic-analyzer-service-300814472.html

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What is shadow IoT? How to mitigate the risk

When someone in your organization starts using internet-connected devices without IT’s knowledge, that’s shadow IoT. Here’s what you need to know about its growing risk.

Shadow IoT definition

Shadow IoT refers to internet of things (IoT) devices or sensors in active use within an organization without IT’s knowledge. The best example is from before the days of bring your own device (BYOD) policies when employees used personal smartphones or other mobile devices for work purposes. “Shadow IoT is an extension of shadow IT, but on a whole new scale,” says Mike Raggo, CSO at 802 Secure. “It stems not only from the growing number of devices per employee but also the types of devices, functionalities and purposes.”

Employees have been connecting personal tablets and mobile devices to the company network for years. Today, employees are increasingly using smart speakers, wireless thumb drives and other IoT devices at work as well. Some departments install smart TVs in conference rooms or are using IoT-enabled appliances in office kitchens, such as smart microwaves and coffee machines.

In addition, building facilities are often upgraded with industrial IoT (IIoT) sensors, such as heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems controlled by Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats. Increasingly, drink machines located on company premises connect via Wi-Fi to the internet to accept, say, Apple Pay payments. When these sensors connect to an organization’s network without IT’s knowledge, they become shadow IoT.

How prevalent is shadow IoT?

Gartner predicts that 20.4 billion IoT devices will be in use globally by 2020, up from 8.4 billion in 2017. Shadow IoT has become widely prevalent as a result. In 2017, 100 percent of organizations surveyed reported ‘rogue’ consumer IoT devices on the enterprise network, and 90 percent reported discovering previously undetected IoT or IIoT wireless networks separate from the enterprise infrastructure, according to a 2018 report from 802 Secure.

One-third of companies in the U.S., U.K. and Germany have more than 1,000 shadow IoT devices connected to their network on a typical day, according to a 2018 Infloblox report on shadow devices. Infoblox’s research found that the most common IoT devices on enterprise networks are:

  • Fitness trackers such as Fitbits, 49 percent;
  • Digital assistants such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home, 47 percent
  • Smart TVs, 46 percent
  • Smart kitchen devices such as connected microwaves, 33 percent
  • Gaming consoles such as Xboxes or PlayStations, 30 percent.
shadow iot infographic v3.0

What are shadow IoT’s risks?

IoT devices are often built without inherent, enterprise-grade security controls, are frequently set up using default IDs and passwords that criminals can easily find via internet searches, and are sometimes added to an organization’s main Wi-Fi networks without IT’s knowledge. Consequently, the IoT sensors aren’t always visible on an organization’s network. IT can’t control or secure devices they can’t see, making smart connected devices an easy target for hackers and cybercriminals. The result: IoT attacks grew by 600 percent in 2018 compared to 2017, according to Symantec.

Vulnerable connected devices are easily discoverable online via search engines for internet-connected devices such as Shodan, Inflobox’s report points out. “Even when searching simple terms, Shodan provides details of identifiable devices, including the banner information, HTTP, SSH, FTP and SNMP services. As identifying devices is the first step in accessing devices, this provides even lower-level criminals with an easy means of identifying a vast number of devices on enterprise networks that can then be targeted for vulnerabilities.”

Why aren’t most shadow IoT devices secure?

When PCs were first released decades ago, their operating systems weren’t built with inherent security, Raggo observes. As a result, securing PCs against viruses and malware remains an ongoing struggle.

In contrast, the iOS and Android mobile operating systems were designed with integrated security, such as app sandboxing. While mobile devices aren’t bullet-proof, they’re typically more secure than desktops and laptops.

With today’s IoT and IIoT devices, “It’s like manufacturers have forgotten everything we’ve learned about security from mobile operating systems,” Raggo says. “There are so many IoT manufacturers, and the supply chain for building the devices is scattered all over the world, leading to a highly fragmented market.”

Because IoT devices tend to be focused on just one or two tasks, they often lack security features beyond basic protocols such as WPA2 Wi-Fi, which has its vulnerabilities. The result: Billions of unsecured IoT devices are in use globally on enterprise networks without IT’s knowledge or involvement.

“I bought 10 or 15 IoT devices a few years ago to check out their security,” says Chester Wisniewski, principal research scientist at Sophos. “It was shocking how fast I could find their vulnerabilities, which means anyone could hack them. Some devices had no process for me to report vulnerabilities.”

Have criminal hackers successfully targeted shadow IoT devices?

Yes. Probably the most famous example to date is the 2016 Mirai botnet attack, in which unsecured IoT devices such as Internet Protocol (IP) cameras and home network routers were hacked to build a massive botnet army. The army executed hugely disruptive distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, such as one that left much of the U.S. east coast internet inaccessible. The Mirai source code was also shared on the internet, for criminal hackers to use as building blocks for future botnet armies.

Other exploits are available that enable cybercriminals to take control of IoT devices, according to the Infoblox report. “In 2017, for example, WikiLeaks published the details of a CIA tool, dubbed Weeping Angel, that explains how an agent can turn a Samsung smart TV into a live microphone. Consumer Reports also found flaws in popular smart TVs that could be used to steal data as well as to manipulate the televisions to play offensive videos and install unwanted apps.”

Along with amassing botnet armies and conducting DDoS attacks, cybercriminals can also exploit unsecured IoT devices for data exfiltration and ransomware attacks, according to Infoblox.

In one of the oddest IoT attacks thus far, criminals hacked into a smart thermometer inside a fish tank in a casino lobby to access its network. Once in the network, the attackers were able to steal the casino’s high-roller database.

The future potential of IoT-enabled cyberattacks is enough to give CSOs and other IT security professionals concern. “Consider the damage to vital equipment that could occur if someone connected into an unsecured Wi-Fi thermostat and changed the data center temperature to 95 degrees,” Raggo says. In 2012, for instance, cybercriminals hacked into the thermostats at a state government facility and a manufacturing plant and changed the temperatures inside the buildings. The thermostats were discovered via Shodan, a search engine devoted to internet-connected devices.

To date, the impact of IoT device exploits hasn’t been hugely negative for any particular enterprise, says Wisniewski, in terms of exploiting sensitive or private data. “But when a hacker figures out how to make a big profit compromising IoT devices, like using a brand of smart TVs for conference room spying, that’s when the shadow IoT security risk problem will get everyone’s attention.”

3 ways to mitigate shadow IoT security risks?

  1. Make it easy for users to officially add IoT devices. “The reason you have shadow IT and shadow IoT is often because the IT department is known for saying ‘no’ to requests to use devices like smart TVs,” says Wisniewski. Instead of outright banning IoT devices, fast-tracking their approval whenever possible and feasible—within, say, 30 minutes after the request is made—can help reduce the presence of shadow IoT.

    “Publish and circulate your approval process,” Wisniewski adds. “Get users to fill out a brief form and let them know how quickly someone will get back to them. Make the process as flexible and as easy for the requester as possible, so they don’t try to hide something they want to use.”

  2. Proactively look for shadow IoT devices. “Organizations need to look beyond their own network to discover shadow IoT, because much of it doesn’t live on the corporate network,” Raggo says. “More than 80 percent of IoT is wireless-enabled. Therefore, wireless monitoring for shadow IoT devices and networks can allow visibility and asset management of these other devices and networks.”

    Traditional security products list devices by a media access control (MAC) address or a vendor’s organizationally unique identifier (OUI), yet they are largely unhelpful in an environment with a plethora of different types of devices, Raggo adds. “IT really wants to know ‘what is that device?’ so they can determine if it’s a rogue or permitted device. In today’s world of deep-packet inspection and machine learning, mature security products should provide human-friendly categorizations of discovered assets to ease the process of asset management and security.”

  3. Isolate IoT. Ideally, new IoT and IIoT devices should connect to the internet via a separate Wi-Fi network dedicated to such devices that IT controls, says Wisniewski. The network should be configured to enable IoT devices to transmit information and to block them from receiving incoming calls. “With the majority of IoT devices, nothing legitimate is ever transmitted to them,” he says.

Anything shadowy is a problem

“Shadow anything is a problem, whether it’s an IoT device or any other addressable, unmanaged item,” says Wisniewski. “The key is controlling access to the network from only authorized devices, keeping an accurate inventory of authorized devices, and having clear policies in place to ensure employees know they aren’t allowed to ‘bring their own’ devices and that HR sanctions will be enforced if they do.”

Source: https://www.csoonline.com/article/3346082/what-is-shadow-iot-how-to-mitigate-the-risk.html

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IoT and DDoS attacks dominate cybersecurity space

Connected devices often get attacked minutes after being plugged in.

IoT devices are being attacked with greater regularity than ever before, new research has suggested.

According to a new report by NETSCOUT, smart products often come under attack within five minutes of being plugged in, and are targeted by specific exploits within a day.

The Threat Landscape Report says IoT device security is ‘minimal to non-existent’ on many devices. That makes the IoT sector among the most vulnerable ones, especially knowing that medical equipment and connected cars fall under the IoT category.

DDoS, in general, is still on the rise, the report adds. The number of such attacks grew by a quarter last year. Attacks in the 100-400 Gbps range ‘exploded’, it says, concluding a ‘continued interest’ hackers have in this attack vector.

The global maximum DDoS attack size grew by 19 per cent last year, compared to the year before.

International institutions, such as the UN or the IMF, have never been this interesting to hackers. DDoS attacks against such organisations had risen by almost 200 per cent last year.

Hackers operate similarly to the way legitimate businesses operate. They employ the affiliate model, allowing them to rake up profits quite quickly.

“Our global findings reveal that the threat landscape in the second half of 2018 represents the equivalent of attacks on steroids,” said Hardik Modi, NETSCOUT’s senior director of Threat Intelligence. “With DDoS attack size and frequency, volume of nation state activity and speed of IoT threats all on the rise, the modern world can no longer ignore the digital threats we regularly face from malicious actors capable of capitalizing on the interdependencies that wind through our pervasively connected world.”

Source: https://www.itproportal.com/news/iot-and-ddos-attacks-dominate-cybersecurity-space/

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The Trouble With Growing Your Own DDoS Protection Methods

If you’re keeping up with what’s happening in the wonderful world of IT, you’re probably reading the blood-curdling headlines about 1.7 Tbps distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks and gut-wrenching descriptions of average $40,000-per-hour costs of unmitigated attacks. 

You’ve also probably digested the fact that no business is too large or too small to be a target of distributed denial of service attacks. So, it’s natural to start thinking about IT security improvements. In these initial thoughts, it’s tempting to envisage a tidy, on-site operation. It has the latest hardware and software (you’re upgrading), and your IT team is in charge. But hold on a minute. Before you go any further, consider all your options before settling on a DIY security solution. There are many reasons why the wise choice is letting the security pros protect your network.

Five reasons to not DIY

The main reason to pass up DIY mitigation? Its limitations. Although tools and techniques of in-house DDoS mitigation are powerful, they can’t stop swift, massive, and sophisticated volumetric attacks. Remember, in on-premises DIY mitigation plans:

  • Protection starts too late in the attack cycle. DIY protection methods are usually a reaction to the initial attack. By the time the IT security team starts working, much of the damage is done. This is especially relevant in DDoS attacks that include application-layer exploits.
  • The ability to adjust configurations doesn’t always help. IT security pros can respond to an attack by adjusting configuration settings manually. However, this takes valuable time. Also, protection is good only for the same type of attack. This lack of flexibility becomes a problem in multi-vector exploits. When botmasters (human controllers of DDoS bots) change tactics in mid-attack, your protection loses its usefulness. 
  • Your network’s network bandwidth limits DIY protection efforts. Your DDoS protection is only as good as your bandwidth is large. DDoS attacks commonly measure many times more than the volume of enterprise network traffic. 
  • DIY protection can’t always distinguish malware and legitimate users. In-house, DDoS protection methods often involve static traffic rate limitations and IP blacklisting. When you use these relatively old-fashioned methods, legitimate users can be mistaken for malicious software. Being blocked from using your website is a quick way to lose customers. 
  • Prohibitive costs. For many companies wanting to upgrade their DDoS protection, this is the biggest problem of all. Purchasing, installing and deploying hardware appliances carry a hefty price tag that puts DIY protection beyond the budget of most organizations.

Don’t forget to protect your applications

Network users are discovering what IT security pros have known for a while. Volumetric attacks might be the familiar face of DDoS mayhem. In many cases, however, data and application security are also at risk. 

That’s because DDoS attacks are often smokescreens to exploits that look for valuable data and information. In an application-layer DDoS attack, a botnet distracts the security team. While the security pros deal with the immediate problem, bots search for any information that can be sold on the Dark Web. 

If you want to run your own DDoS protection methods, this is bad news. The security of applications that you run onsite is at risk. Given this expanded security scope, you would have to protect your apps by upgrading application-layer security measures. Experts recommend that to secure commercial applications, organizations must have their own remediation process, identity management methods, and infrastructure security procedures.

To run custom applications safely, you should adopt quite a few additional measures. These include application security testing, developer training, DevOps and DevSecOps practices, and maintaining an open source code inventory.

The ace up your sleeve—cloud-based mitigation services

The cloud is where you’ll find a powerful, cost-effective security option. Cloud-based, DDoS mitigation providers offer benefits that DIY methods lack. 

  • Broad DDoS protection. Cloud-based protection secures your infrastructure against attacks on your system’s network and application layers. 
  • No DDoS-related capital or operations costs. Mitigation service specialists offer DDoS protection as a managed service. There’s no need to invest in hardware or software. And, say good-bye to IT labor costs. Your IT staff doesn’t get involved in DDoS mitigation. 
  • No scalability problems. DDoS mitigation providers use large-scale infrastructures, with virtually unlimited bandwidth. 
  • No need to hire expensive talent. In-house DDoS protection solutions require IT pros with expensive, often hard-to-find knowledge and experience. The staffs of DDoS mitigation providers include the security and data specialists needed to keep DDoS attacks at bay.
  • You spend less time and money. When you add up the costs of all required assets and resources, the conclusion is clear. You’ll spend far less time, effort, and budget when you engage off-premises, DDoS protection services.

These are the benefits that most DDoS mitigation services provide. However, advanced mitigation providers go several steps beyond this already high standard of performance. For example, automated defense methods built into DDoS response software eliminate the need for time-consuming human intervention. In fact, these capabilities reduce time to mitigation to mere seconds. (The current industry record is 10 seconds). 

Isn’t it time to take advantage of this IT security firepower? With DDoS mitigation services at your back, you’ll never have to wince at another DDoS screamer headline again.

Source: http://trendintech.com/2019/01/27/the-trouble-with-growing-your-own-ddos-protection-methods/

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Nokia: IoT Botnets Comprise 78% of Malware on Networks

Nokia is warning of a deluge of IoT malware after revealing a 45% increase in IoT botnet activity on service provider networks since 2016.

The mobile networking firm’s Threat Intelligence Report for 2019 is is based on data collected from its NetGuard Endpoint Security product, which it says monitors network traffic from over 150 million devices globally.

It revealed that botnet activity represented 78% of malware detection events in communication service provider (CSP) networks this year, more than double the 33% seen in 2016.

Similarly, IoT bots now make up 16% of infected devices on CSP networks, a near-five-fold increase from 3.5% a year ago.

“Cyber-criminals are switching gears from the traditional computer and smartphone ecosystems and now targeting the growing number of vulnerable IoT devices that are being deployed,” said Kevin McNamee, director of Nokia’s Threat Intelligence Lab. “You have thousands of IoT device manufacturers wanting to move product fast to market and, unfortunately, security is often an afterthought.”

This is a threat that first came to light with the Mirai attacks of 2016, when the infamous IoT malware sought out and infected tens of thousands of smart devices protected only by factory default passwords.

That ended up launching some of the largest DDoS attacks ever seen, although Nokia also called out crypto-mining as a potential new use of IoT botnets made up of compromised smartphones and web browsers.

“Cyber-criminals have increasingly smart tools to scan for and to quickly exploit vulnerable devices, and they have new tools for spreading their malware and bypassing firewalls. If a vulnerable device is deployed on the internet, it will be exploited in a matter of minutes,” McNamee warned.

IoT adoption is expected to accelerate with 5G, potentially exposing even more devices to cyber risk, Nokia claimed.

Yossi Naar, co-founder at Cybereason, argued that attackers can also use compromised IoT endpoints to move into corporate networks and high-value servers.

“Simply put, security needs to be a primary design consideration, as fundamental as any other measure of performance,” he added. “There should be a focus on tight mechanisms for strong authentication and the minimization of the potential attack surface. It’s a fundamental design philosophy that responsible companies have, but it’s not a reflex for all companies — yet.”

Source: https://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/news/iot-botnets-78-of-malware-on/

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Universities seeing rise in DDoS attacks

Kaspersky Lab has noticed an overall decline in the number of DDoS attacks this year, which may be due to many bot owners reallocating the computing power of their bots to a more profitable and relatively safe way of making money: cryptocurrency mining.

However, there is still a risk of DDoS attacks causing disruption, despite attackers not seeking financial gain.

The Kaspersky Lab DDoS Q3 report marked a continued trend in attacks aimed at educational organisations, as they open their doors after a long summer and students head back to school.

Attackers were most active during the third quarter in August and September, proven by the number of DDoS attacks on educational institutions increasing sharply at the start of the academic year.

This year, the most prominent attacks hit the websites of one of the UK’s leading universities – the University of Edinburgh – and the US vendor Infinite Campus, which supports the parent portal for numerous city public schools.

Analysis from Kaspersky Lab experts has found that the majority of these DDoS attacks were carried out during term time and subsided during the holidays.

More or less the same result was obtained by the British organisation Jisc.

After collecting data about a series of attacks on universities, it determined that the number of attacks fell when students were on holiday.

The number of attacks also decreases outside of study hours, with DDoS interference in university resources mainly occurring between 9am and 4pm.

Overall, between July and September, DDoS botnets attacked targets in 82 countries.

China was once again first in terms of the number of attacks.

The US returned to second after losing its place in the top three to Hong Kong in Q2.

However, third place has now been occupied by Australia – the first time it’s reached such heights since Kaspersky Lab DDoS reports began.

There have also been changes in the top 10 countries with the highest number of active botnet C&C servers.

As in the previous quarter, the US remained in first place, but Russia moved up to second, while Greece came third.

Kaspersky DDoS protection business development manager Alexey Kiselev says, “The top priority of any cybercriminal activity is gain.

“However, that gain doesn’t necessarily have to be financial. The example of DDoS attacks on universities, schools and testing centres presumably demonstrates attempts by young people to annoy teachers, institutions or other students, or maybe just to postpone a test.

“At the same time, these attacks are often carried out without the use of botnets, which are, as a rule, only available to professional cybercriminals, who now seem to be more concerned with mining and conducting only well-paid attacks.

“This sort of ‘initiative’ shown by students and pupils would be amusing if it didn’t cause real problems for the attacked organisations which, in turn, have to prepare to defend themselves against such attacks,” Kiselev says.

Source: https://datacentrenews.eu/story/universities-seeing-rise-in-ddos-attacks

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30 years ago, the world’s first cyberattack set the stage for modern cybersecurity challenges

Back in November 1988, Robert Tappan Morris, son of the famous cryptographer Robert Morris Sr., was a 20-something graduate student at Cornell who wanted to know how big the internet was – that is, how many devices were connected to it. So he wrote a program that would travel from computer to computer and ask each machine to send a signal back to a control server, which would keep count.

The program worked well – too well, in fact. Morris had known that if it traveled too fast there might be problems, but the limits he built in weren’t enough to keep the program from clogging up large sections of the internet, both copying itself to new machines and sending those pings back. When he realized what was happening, even his messages warning system administrators about the problem couldn’t get through.

His program became the first of a particular type of cyber attack called “distributed denial of service,” in which large numbers of internet-connected devices, including computers, webcams and other smart gadgets, are told to send lots of traffic to one particular address, overloading it with so much activity that either the system shuts down or its network connections are completely blocked.

As the chair of the integrated Indiana University Cybersecurity Program, I can report that these kinds of attacks are increasingly frequent today. In many ways, Morris’s program, known to history as the “Morris worm,” set the stage for the crucial, and potentially devastating, vulnerabilities in what I and others have called the coming “Internet of Everything.”

Unpacking the Morris worm

Worms and viruses are similar, but different in one key way: A virus needs an external command, from a user or a hacker, to run its program. A worm, by contrast, hits the ground running all on its own. For example, even if you never open your email program, a worm that gets onto your computer might email a copy of itself to everyone in your address book.

In an era when few people were concerned about malicious software and nobody had protective software installed, the Morris worm spread quickly. It took 72 hours for researchers at Purdue and Berkeley to halt the worm. In that time, it infected tens of thousands of systems – about 10 percent of the computers then on the internet. Cleaning up the infection cost hundreds or thousands of dollars for each affected machine.

In the clamor of media attention about this first event of its kind, confusion was rampant. Some reporters even asked whether people could catch the computer infection. Sadly, many journalists as a whole haven’t gotten much more knowledgeable on the topic in the intervening decades.

Morris wasn’t trying to destroy the internet, but the worm’s widespread effects resulted in him being prosecuted under the then-new Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. He was sentenced to three years of probation and a roughly US$10,000 fine. In the late 1990s, though, he became a dot-com millionaire – and is now a professor at MIT.

Rising threats

The internet remains subject to much more frequent – and more crippling – DDoS attacks. With more than 20 billion devices of all types, from refrigerators and cars to fitness trackers, connected to the internet, and millions more being connected weekly, the number of security flaws and vulnerabilities is exploding.

In October 2016, a DDoS attack using thousands of hijacked webcams – often used for security or baby monitors – shut down access to a number of important internet services along the eastern U.S. seaboard. That event was the culmination of a series of increasingly damaging attacks using a botnet, or a network of compromised devices, which was controlled by software called Mirai. Today’s internet is much larger, but not much more secure, than the internet of 1988.

Some things have actually gotten worse. Figuring out who is behind particular attacks is not as easy as waiting for that person to get worried and send out apology notes and warnings, as Morris did in 1988. In some cases – the ones big enough to merit full investigations – it’s possible to identify the culprits. A trio of college students was ultimately found to have created Mirai to gain advantages when playing the “Minecraft” computer game.

Fighting DDoS attacks

But technological tools are not enough, and neither are laws and regulations about online activity – including the law under which Morris was charged. The dozens of state and federal cybercrime statutes on the books have not yet seemed to reduce the overall number or severity of attacks, in part because of the global nature of the problem.

There are some efforts underway in Congress to allow attack victims in some cases to engage in active defense measures – a notion that comes with a number of downsides, including the risk of escalation – and to require better security for internet-connected devices. But passage is far from assured

There is cause for hope, though. In the wake of the Morris worm, Carnegie Mellon University established the world’s first Cyber Emergency Response Team, which has been replicated in the federal government and around the world. Some policymakers are talking about establishing a national cybersecurity safety board, to investigate digital weaknesses and issue recommendations, much as the National Transportation Safety Board does with airplane disasters.

More organizations are also taking preventative action, adopting best practices in cybersecurity as they build their systems, rather than waiting for a problem to happen and trying to clean up afterward. If more organizations considered cybersecurity as an important element of corporate social responsibility, they – and their staff, customers and business partners – would be safer.

In “3001: The Final Odyssey,” science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke envisioned a future where humanity sealed the worst of its weapons in a vault on the moon – which included room for the most malignant computer viruses ever created. Before the next iteration of the Morris worm or Mirai does untold damage to the modern information society, it is up to everyone – governments, companies and individuals alike – to set up rules and programs that support widespread cybersecurity, without waiting another 30 years.

Source:http://theconversation.com/30-years-ago-the-worlds-first-cyberattack-set-the-stage-for-modern-cybersecurity-challenges-105449

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Over third of large Dutch firms hit by cyberattack in 2016 – CBS

Large companies are hit by cyberattacks at an above average rate, according to the Cybersecurity Monitor of Dutch statistics bureau CBS for 2018. Among companies of 250+ employees, 39 percent were hit at least once by a cyberattack in 2016, such as a hack or DDoS attack. By contrast, around 9 percent of small companies (2-10 employees) were confronted with such an ICT incident.

Of the larger companies, 23 percent suffered from failure of business processes due to the outside cyberattacks. This compares to 6 percent for the smaller companies. Of all ICT incidents, failures were most common, for all sizes, though again, the larger companies were more affected (55%) than the smaller ones (21%). The incidents led to costs for both groups of companies.

Chance of incident bigger at large company

CBS noted that ICT incidents can arise from both from an outside attack and from an internal cause, such as incorrectly installed software or hardware or from the unintentional disclosure of data by an employee. The fact that larger companies suffer more from ICT incidents can be related to the fact that more people work with computers; this increases the chance of incidents. In addition, larger companies often have a more complex ICT infrastructure, which can cause more problems.

The number of ICT incidents also varies per industry. For example, small businesses in the ICT sector (12%) and industry (10%) often suffer from ICT incidents due to external attacks. Small companies in the hospitality sector (6%) and health and welfare care (5%) were less often confronted with cyberattacks.

Internal cause more common at smaller companies

Compared to larger companies, ICT incidents at small companies more often have an internal cause: 2 out 3, compared to 2 out of 5 for larger companies. ICT incidents at small companies in health and welfare care most often had an internal cause (84%). In the ICT sector, this share was 60 percent.

About 7 percent of companies with an ICT incident report them to one or more authorities, including police, the Dutch Data Protection Authority AP, a security team or their bank. The largest companies report ICT incidents much more often (41%) than the smallest companies (6%). Large companies report these ICT incidents most frequently to the AP, complying with law. After that, most reports are made to the police. The smallest companies report incidents most often to their bank.

Smaller: less safe

Small businesses are less often confronted with ICT incidents and, in comparison with large companies, take fewer security measures. Around 60 percent of small companies take three or more measures. This goes to 98 percent for larger companies.

Source: https://www.telecompaper.com/news/over-third-39-of-large-dutch-firms-hit-by-cyberattack-in-2016-cbs–1265851

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