Click here to close now.

Welcome!

Security Authors: Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, John Wetherill, Ed Featherston

Related Topics: Virtualization, Java, Microservices Journal, .NET, Cloud Expo, Security

Virtualization: Blog Feed Post

Directed DDoS Attacks as Screens

Hiding behind that DDoS attack is a nightmare. Stop it before the nightmare comes true

Military science has a simple mechanism utilized at almost every level of both tactical and strategic thinking: Pin the enemy down with a distraction (a feint or an actual attack, either way), and then hit them where they’re not looking. This maxim has worked very well from squad level tactics where you pin them down with a base of fire while half the squad creeps around the enemy to hit them from the side to strategic tactics like when you attack on the entire front, but keep a massive reserve to push through any point that shows weakness. While the correlations of security to warfare can grow rather tiresome, sometimes, they are the correct correlations. The manner in which DDoS attacks are increasingly being used is well defined by this military maxim.

Picture from ArmChairGeneral.com Kursk, 76 years ago the day this blog was posted. The space in the middle between the darker red lines is where the Soviet army found weakness in the German lines around Prokhorovka. After a general counter-offensive, this weak spot is where they poured their reserves and ended the last major German offensive of WWII.

Why is that? The trend for DDoS attacks is to use the DDoS to mask some other intention – literally using it as a massive assault, so a few targeted attacks can be hidden within to try and break through the defenses of the organization being attacked. The methods range from highly sophisticated to pretty straight-forward, but there is a lot of sense in utilizing this tactic. First off, if the security team is focused on the DDoS, there’s a chance they’ll miss the more targeted attacks. Second off, with millions of connections occurring, the attack of a few packets might be overlooked, and third, while adjusting things to deal with the DDoS, security or other IT staff might well make a change that opens the door to one of these targeted attacks.

The aim is to get inside and steal data, the distraction is the DDoS, which is a very real attack, but forces the defender to split resources, or even dedicate all resources to defending against the DDoS. As in warfare, sometimes this tactic is staggeringly successful, and sometimes not. Even when not successful, the damage done to business can be immense. In the month before this blog post was written, nearly every major US bank had experienced DDoS attacks, with most suffering some form of reduced service or even outage during the attacks. The linked to article does not include others who were targeted after the date of publication, so the total number of US banks is pretty large.

And if you think that banks are being targeted enmasse for some random outside reason, I’ve got a highly influential spot on the Anonymous board of directors to sell you.

The DDoS attacks being waged against banks are for some other, more nefarious reason, and while I don’t know what that is at the moment, they’re banks. That does make it easy to speculate “financial gain” in one form or another.

The thing is, there are a variety of ways to stop such attacks, including utilizing our own BIG-IP (meant to handle outrageous volumes of requests, and able to identify most DDoS methods before they reach your servers) to stop DDoS dead in its tracks. The problem is that we often don’t treat security seriously until it is a problem. If you’re a large enough organization, at this point you should be able to determine that you will at some point be the target of a DDoS attack. If you’re a financial institution, no matter how small, you should be able to come to that same conclusion. So stop waiting for services to go down, find some money in the budget, do some research, and put something in place. Most major banks started to address DDoS last year, and took a closer look at it again in April – the last two targeted waves of attacks – but not all. There are a ton of reasons why some didn’t, but the trend is now obvious, procrastinating may hurt.

My co-worker David Holmes has written about mitigating a lot of these attacks here, and his approach is just one of several. In fact, if you search his blog for DDoS or Attack Mitigation, you get a ton of valuable information.

The thing is that pretty clearly there’s an ulterior motive to these attacks, and stopping the DDoS stands a good chance of either exposing or stopping whatever the ulterior motive is. And in banking, blocking ulterior motives is a way of life, no?

Many banking websites disabled logins during the attacks on their premises, but this alone can cause customer flight for the people who do all of their banking online. It’s their money, they tend to get testy if you won’t let them at it. Rumors abound, for example, that Citibank blocked logins for days and only slowly returned functionality. Meanwhile, customers were stewing. That’s a problem they will have to resolve outside the technological realm, but is also a proof that the easy answers – take the website down, protect customers’ money by disabling logins, etc – are not good enough. I’m not picking on Citi here, they were just the one I was pointed at by online friends, other big financial firms did much the same thing while under these attacks.

The security of our financial information is of tantamount importance to all of us. Banks do a very good job of protecting that information (consider number of breaches versus number of transactions or accounts as a measure), but in a changing environment they must consider doing even more. DDoS prevention appears to be a staple of FSI security moving forward. And as is always the case with security and the Internet, that will solve the current round of problems, but with billions of people on the internet, another challenge is just a mouse-click away.

Here’s hoping that none of the hidden agendas were realized while those attacks were going on, and here’s to security folks who now have to be more alert about other parts of security while defending against a DDoS. Thanks for doing what you do, most of the people out here have no idea how effective you are at keeping our data safe. And that’s probably for the best.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Don MacVittie

Don MacVittie is Founder of Ingrained Technology, LLC, specializing in Development, Devops, and Cloud Strategy. Previously, he was a Technical Marketing Manager at F5 Networks. As an industry veteran, MacVittie has extensive programming experience along with project management, IT management, and systems/network administration expertise.

Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was a Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing, where he conducted product research and evaluated storage and server systems, as well as development and outsourcing solutions. He has authored numerous articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. MacVittie holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Northern Michigan University, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.

@ThingsExpo Stories
WebRTC defines no default signaling protocol, causing fragmentation between WebRTC silos. SIP and XMPP provide possibilities, but come with considerable complexity and are not designed for use in a web environment. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Matthew Hodgson, technical co-founder of the Matrix.org, discussed how Matrix is a new non-profit Open Source Project that defines both a new HTTP-based standard for VoIP & IM signaling and provides reference implementations.
SYS-CON Events announced today that the "First Containers & Microservices Conference" will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City. The “Second Containers & Microservices Conference” will take place November 3-5, 2015, at Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA. Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities.
Buzzword alert: Microservices and IoT at a DevOps conference? What could possibly go wrong? In this Power Panel at DevOps Summit, moderated by Jason Bloomberg, the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise and president of Intellyx, panelists will peel away the buzz and discuss the important architectural principles behind implementing IoT solutions for the enterprise. As remote IoT devices and sensors become increasingly intelligent, they become part of our distributed cloud environment, and we must architect and code accordingly. At the very least, you'll have no problem fil...
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
The 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 17th International Cloud Expo - to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - announces that its Call for Papers is open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The 17th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. 17th International Cloud Expo, to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, APM, APIs, Microservices, Security, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal today!
In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect at GE, and Ibrahim Gokcen, who leads GE's advanced IoT analytics, focused on the Internet of Things / Industrial Internet and how to make it operational for business end-users. Learn about the challenges posed by machine and sensor data and how to marry it with enterprise data. They also discussed the tips and tricks to provide the Industrial Internet as an end-user consumable service using Big Data Analytics and Industrial Cloud.
The explosion of connected devices / sensors is creating an ever-expanding set of new and valuable data. In parallel the emerging capability of Big Data technologies to store, access, analyze, and react to this data is producing changes in business models under the umbrella of the Internet of Things (IoT). In particular within the Insurance industry, IoT appears positioned to enable deep changes by altering relationships between insurers, distributors, and the insured. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Sick, a Senior Manager and Big Data Architect within Ernst and Young's Financial Servi...
17th Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterprises are using some form of XaaS – software, platform, and infrastructure as a service.
Sensor-enabled things are becoming more commonplace, precursors to a larger and more complex framework that most consider the ultimate promise of the IoT: things connecting, interacting, sharing, storing, and over time perhaps learning and predicting based on habits, behaviors, location, preferences, purchases and more. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tom Wesselman, Director of Communications Ecosystem Architecture at Plantronics, will examine the still nascent IoT as it is coalescing, including what it is today, what it might ultimately be, the role of wearable tech, and technology gaps stil...
The Workspace-as-a-Service (WaaS) market will grow to $6.4B by 2018. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Seth Bostock, CEO of IndependenceIT, will begin by walking the audience through the evolution of Workspace as-a-Service, where it is now vs. where it going. To look beyond the desktop we must understand exactly what WaaS is, who the users are, and where it is going in the future. IT departments, ISVs and service providers must look to workflow and automation capabilities to adapt to growing demand and the rapidly changing workspace model.
Since 2008 and for the first time in history, more than half of humans live in urban areas, urging cities to become “smart.” Today, cities can leverage the wide availability of smartphones combined with new technologies such as Beacons or NFC to connect their urban furniture and environment to create citizen-first services that improve transportation, way-finding and information delivery. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Laetitia Gazel-Anthoine, CEO of Connecthings, will focus on successful use cases.
One of the biggest impacts of the Internet of Things is and will continue to be on data; specifically data volume, management and usage. Companies are scrambling to adapt to this new and unpredictable data reality with legacy infrastructure that cannot handle the speed and volume of data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and president of Infobright, will discuss how companies need to rethink their data infrastructure to participate in the IoT, including: Data storage: Understanding the kinds of data: structured, unstructured, big/small? Analytics: What kinds and how responsiv...
Building low-cost wearable devices can enhance the quality of our lives. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Sai Yamanoor, Embedded Software Engineer at Altschool, provided an example of putting together a small keychain within a $50 budget that educates the user about the air quality in their surroundings. He also provided examples such as building a wearable device that provides transit or recreational information. He then reviewed the resources available to build wearable devices at home including open source hardware, the raw materials required and the options available to power s...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo in Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal an...
DevOps tends to focus on the relationship between Dev and Ops, putting an emphasis on the ops and application infrastructure. But that’s changing with microservices architectures. In her session at DevOps Summit, Lori MacVittie, Evangelist for F5 Networks, will focus on how microservices are changing the underlying architectures needed to scale, secure and deliver applications based on highly distributed (micro) services and why that means an expansion into “the network” for DevOps.
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it's a mix of architectural styles ...
The 3rd International @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo – to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY – is now accepting Hackathon proposals. Hackathon sponsorship benefits include general brand exposure and increasing engagement with the developer ecosystem. At Cloud Expo 2014 Silicon Valley, IBM held the Bluemix Developer Playground on November 5 and ElasticBox held the DevOps Hackathon on November 6. Both events took place on the expo floor. The Bluemix Developer Playground, for developers of all levels, highlighted the ease of use of...
We’re no longer looking to the future for the IoT wave. It’s no longer a distant dream but a reality that has arrived. It’s now time to make sure the industry is in alignment to meet the IoT growing pains – cooperate and collaborate as well as innovate. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, will examine the key ingredients to IoT success and identify solutions to challenges the industry is facing. The deep industry expertise behind this presentation will provide attendees with a leading edge view of rapidly emerging IoT oppor...