Welcome!

Security Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Trevor Parsons, Vormetric Blog, Wallace Sann

Related Topics: Virtualization, Java, SOA & WOA, .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
Code Halos - aka "digital fingerprints" - are the key organizing principle to understand a) how dumb things become smart and b) how to monetize this dynamic. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Brown, AVP, Center for the Future of Work at Cognizant Technology Solutions, outlined research, analysis and recommendations from his recently published book on this phenomena on the way leading edge organizations like GE and Disney are unlocking the Internet of Things opportunity and what steps your organization should be taking to position itself for the next platform of digital competition.
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.
SYS-CON Media announced that Splunk, a provider of the leading software platform for real-time Operational Intelligence, has launched an ad campaign on Big Data Journal. Splunk software and cloud services enable organizations to search, monitor, analyze and visualize machine-generated big data coming from websites, applications, servers, networks, sensors and mobile devices. The ads focus on delivering ROI - how improved uptime delivered $6M in annual ROI, improving customer operations by mining large volumes of unstructured data, and how data tracking delivers uptime when it matters most.
Things are being built upon cloud foundations to transform organizations. This CEO Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Roger Strukhoff, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo conference chair, addressed the big issues involving these technologies and, more important, the results they will achieve. Rodney Rogers, chairman and CEO of Virtustream; Brendan O'Brien, co-founder of Aria Systems, Bart Copeland, president and CEO of ActiveState Software; Jim Cowie, chief scientist at Dyn; Dave Wagstaff, VP and chief architect at BSQUARE Corporation; Seth Proctor, CTO of NuoDB, Inc.; and Andris Gailitis, C...
SYS-CON Media announced that Cisco, a worldwide leader in IT that helps companies seize the opportunities of tomorrow, has launched a new ad campaign in Cloud Computing Journal. The ad campaign, a webcast titled 'Is Your Data Center Ready for the Application Economy?', focuses on the latest data center networking technologies, including SDN or ACI, and how customers are using SDN and ACI in their organizations to achieve business agility. The Cisco webcast is available on-demand.
Today’s enterprise is being driven by disruptive competitive and human capital requirements to provide enterprise application access through not only desktops, but also mobile devices. To retrofit existing programs across all these devices using traditional programming methods is very costly and time consuming – often prohibitively so. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO, President, and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., discussed how you can create applications that run on all mobile devices as well as laptops and desktops using a visual drag-and-drop application – and eForms-buildi...
The Industrial Internet revolution is now underway, enabled by connected machines and billions of devices that communicate and collaborate. The massive amounts of Big Data requiring real-time analysis is flooding legacy IT systems and giving way to cloud environments that can handle the unpredictable workloads. Yet many barriers remain until we can fully realize the opportunities and benefits from the convergence of machines and devices with Big Data and the cloud, including interoperability, data security and privacy.
IoT is still a vague buzzword for many people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Kavis, Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Partners, discussed the business value of IoT that goes far beyond the general public's perception that IoT is all about wearables and home consumer services. He also discussed how IoT is perceived by investors and how venture capitalist access this space. Other topics discussed were barriers to success, what is new, what is old, and what the future may hold. Mike Kavis is Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Pa...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is rapidly in the process of breaking from its heretofore relatively obscure enterprise applications (such as plant floor control and supply chain management) and going mainstream into the consumer space. More and more creative folks are interconnecting everyday products such as household items, mobile devices, appliances and cars, and unleashing new and imaginative scenarios. We are seeing a lot of excitement around applications in home automation, personal fitness, and in-car entertainment and this excitement will bleed into other areas. On the commercial side, m...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CodeFutures, a leading supplier of database performance tools, has been named a “Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. CodeFutures is an independent software vendor focused on providing tools that deliver database performance tools that increase productivity during database development and increase database performance and scalability during production.
Dale Kim is the Director of Industry Solutions at MapR. His background includes a variety of technical and management roles at information technology companies. While his experience includes work with relational databases, much of his career pertains to non-relational data in the areas of search, content management, and NoSQL, and includes senior roles in technical marketing, sales engineering, and support engineering. Dale holds an MBA from Santa Clara University, and a BA in Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley.
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to evolve the way the world does business; however, understanding how to apply it to your company can be a mystery. Most people struggle with understanding the potential business uses or tend to get caught up in the technology, resulting in solutions that fail to meet even minimum business goals. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO / President / Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., showed what is needed to leverage the IoT to transform your business. He discussed opportunities and challenges ahead for the IoT from a market and technical point of vie...
The 3rd International Internet of @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 - announces that its Call for Papers is now 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.
Performance is the intersection of power, agility, control, and choice. If you value performance, and more specifically consistent performance, you need to look beyond simple virtualized compute. Many factors need to be considered to create a truly performant environment. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, discussed how to take advantage of a multitude of compute options and platform features to make cloud the cornerstone of your online presence.
In this Women in Technology Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Anne Plese, Senior Consultant, Cloud Product Marketing at Verizon Enterprise, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO at MetraTech; Evelyn de Souza, Data Privacy and Compliance Strategy Leader at Cisco Systems; Seema Jethani, Director of Product Management at Basho Technologies; Victoria Livschitz, CEO of Qubell Inc.; Anne Hungate, Senior Director of Software Quality at DIRECTV, discussed what path they took to find their spot within the technology industry and how do they see opportunities for other women in their area of expertise.
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.
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.
"BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) are increasing at an unprecedented rate. The threat landscape of today is drastically different than just a few years ago. Attacks are much more organized and sophisticated. They are harder to detect and even harder to anticipate. In the foreseeable future it's going to get a whole lot harder. Everything you know today will change. Keeping up with this changing landscape is already a daunting task. Your organization needs to use the latest tools, methods and expertise to guard against those threats. But will that be enough? In the foreseeable future attacks w...