Arbor Networks: Spotlight shines on DDoS as fragmentation attacks dominate NZ

Fragmentation attacks are dominating the security landscape in New Zealand and while attacks are relatively small in comparison to the rest of Asia-Pacific, they are still damaging.

Fragmentation attacks are dominating the security landscape in New Zealand and while attacks are relatively small in comparison to the rest of Asia-Pacific, they are still damaging.

Arbor Networks recently release Q1 DDoS attack data shows that attackers in New Zealand are increasingly gravitating towards reflection/amplification attacks as their threat vector of choice for larger attacks.

In the past year, Arbor has documented a dramatic increase in DDoS attack size and activity.

In New Zealand, the majority of these very large attacks leverage a reflection amplification technique using the Network Time Protocol (NTP), Simple Service Discovery Protocol (SSDP) and DNS servers, with large numbers of significant attacks being detected all around the world.

Reflection amplification is a technique that allows an attacker to both magnify the amount of traffic they can generate, and obfuscate the original sources of that attack traffic.

According to Arbor, this technique relies on two unfortunate realities: firstly, around a half of service providers do not implement filters at the edge of their network to block traffic with a ‘forged’ (spoofed) source IP address; secondly, there are plenty of poorly configured and poorly protected devices on the Internet providing UDP services that offer an amplification factor between a query sent to them and the response which is generated.

“The domination of fragmentation attacks reported in Q1 in New Zealand is interesting and they are likely to be resulting from various reflection/amplification attacks,” says Nick Race, Country Manager, Arbor Networks New Zealand.

“Fragmentation attacks are nothing new, but it does demonstrate the attackers are constantly changing attack vectors in an effort to evade expectations so Kiwi organisations require automated defences to protect against them.

According to Race, operators in New Zealand “absolutely should take note.”

“On-premise DDoS protection is essential for both detection and mitigation of attacks, enabling bad traffic to be scrubbed in an immediate and automated fashion,” he explains.

“Additionally, integrating that on-premises protection to the cloud is also critical; this is where Arbor’s Cloud Signalling technology plays an important role.”

Findings also show that New Zealand had a higher proportion of attacks under 1Gbps (92 percent) compared to the rest of APAC (89 percent) in Q1 2015.

Across the country, SSDP and NTP top the list of attack types in Q1 2015 with the largest reflection attack of 10.44 Gbps (SSDP) targeted at port 80, this destination port only made up 4 percent of the attacks compared with 18 percent in Asia-Pacific.

At present, most (86 percent) of New Zealand’s attack destination ports were fragmentation attacks (port 0) compared with just 8 percent for Asia-Pacific while the average attack length was much shorter than most of Asia-Pacific at just over 12 minutes versus 46 minutes and 98 percent were less than an hour.

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