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New report shows IoT devices increasingly being exploited for DDoS attacks

A10 Networks has published the findings of a new report into the state of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack weapons and targets, showcasing the growing use of IoT devices in synchronised attacks on targets globally. The report describes the significant potential for attackers to use an IoT-related protocol, the Constrained Application Protocol (CoAP), deployed on IoT devices to marshal attacks.

The report examines the types of weapons and attacks being used and where they are coming from. While the most prevalent types of weapons leverage other more established technologies and internet protocols, such as the Network Time Protocol (NTP), Domain Name System (DNS) resolvers, and the Simple Services Discovery Protocol (SSDP), CoAP-based devices represent a fast-emerging new weapon type in botnet arsenals, according to the report.

The most common type of attack uses many of these weapons in a reflective amplification attack through which attackers spoof a target’s IP address and send out requests for information to vulnerable servers that then send amplified responses back to the victim’s IP address overwhelming the capacity of the target’s servers.

“DDoS attacks are increasing in frequency, intensity and sophistication,” said Rich Groves, director of research and development, A10 Networks. “Malware-Infected systems and vulnerable servers continue to create attacks of crushing scale against unprepared targets. The growth of IoT devices using protocols such as CoAP represent a new, fast-emerging attack surface that we expect will play a major role in DDoS attacks going forward. Like other favourite weapon types, CoAP is inherently susceptible to IP address spoofing and packet amplification, the two major factors that enable the amplification of a DDoS attack.”

CoAP is a lightweight machine-to-machine (M2M) protocol that can run on smart devices where memory and computing resources are scarce. The latest A10 Networks report found that over 400,000 of the weapons are being used in attacks.

The A10 Networks report tracked some 22.9 million DDoS weapons in the first quarter of 2019:

  • The top-five types of weapons tracked were: 1) DNS resolvers, 2) NTP based weapons, 3) SSDP-based weapons, 4) SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) devices and 5) TFTP (Trivial File Transfer Protocol) devices.
  • China is the number one host country for weapons, followed by the United States, with 6,179,850 and 2,646,616 weapons, respectively, tracked. Other leading host countries, in order of magnitude, are Spain, Russia, The Republic of Korea, Italy, and India.

Read the report (PDF).



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