Record-breaking distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks are on a tear this year, and new data shows that DNS amplification attacks have jumped 700% worldwide since 2016.
In the first quarter of 2018, some 55 DNS amplification attacks employed Memcached servers, according to Nexusguard’s first quarter data. Memcached servers this year became the new darling of botnet operators looking for a way to jack up their DDoS attacks. Memcached is an open source software program used to increase server performance; it caches data in system memory, and was designed for internal networks.
But many organizations leave their Memcached servers with public Internet exposure, and DDoS attackers are snapping them up for their dirty work because they are so powerful and provide volumetric DDoS traffic via even low bandwidth connections. Memcached can generate amplified DDoS attacks by a factor of 51,000 times other DNS amp attacks, according to Nexusguard.
Github earlier this year suffered a Memcached-born DDoS attack that hit 1.35 terabytes. But that record was broken a week later by a 1.7TB DDoS that used Memcached servers against an undisclosed US service provider.
Juniman Kasman, CTO of Nexusguard, says amplification-style DDoS attacks are here to stay. “Cyberattackers continue to seek new vulnerabilities to pursue more firepower, launching more amplification attacks through unguarded Memcached servers and poorly configured DNSSEC-enabled DNS servers the past two quarters, and we expect this trend to continue.”
DNS amplification by far was the top DDoS attack in Q1, with 4,791 attacks, followed by UDP (1,806 attacks), and ICMP (1,608 attacks).
Overall, multi-vector DDoS attacks that combine DNS, network time protocol (NTP), universal datagram protocol (UDP), and other protocols to amplify the attack, are the most common. These attacks accounted for more than half of all DDoS botnets in the first quarter, according to the report.
China was the number one source of DDoS attacks, with 15.2%, followed by the US, with 14.2%.
Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at DarkReading.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise … View Full Bio