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Attackers Using Overlooked Connected Devices to Launch 'DrDoS' Attacks: Prolexic

Printers, Routers and Other Internet-Connected Devices Are Being Hijacked to Participate in DrDoS Attacks

In a new whitepaper on the topic, Prolexic, a DDoS mitigation provider, explores how criminals are using network connected devices to launch Distributed Reflection and Amplification Denial of Service (DrDoS) attacks.

Leveraging IP-based devices, such as printers, cameras, routers, hubs, and sensors, criminals have created chaos online, shutting down networks and servers in a matter of minutes. Criminals target these devices, and the attacks using them work so well because of inherent vulnerabilities in standard network protocols.

Each of the aforementioned devices, when used for an amplified or reflected DDoS attack, are hijacked because they utilize SNMP, NTP, or the CHARGEN protocol. Once compromised, the devices are turned into bots, and their owners – home users or corporations – are often unaware of their unintentional cooperation in an active attack.

“These protocols are ubiquitous across the Internet and out-of-the-box device and server configurations leave most networks vulnerable to these attacks,” the white paper explains.

“...protocol reflection attacks are possible due to the inherent design of the original architecture and the structure of the RFC. When these protocols were developed, functionality was the main focus, not security.”

Unfortunately, as networks grow more complex and more IP-based devices are added to them, protocol attacks will keep growing as they’ve already been proven to be an effective form of attack.

Closing such security gaps, the paper observes, would mean new protocols, because the problems lie at the core of their functionality and architectures. Something that isn’t likely to happen any time soon.

The complete white paper is available online.  

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Steve Ragan is a security reporter and contributor for SecurityWeek. Prior to joining the journalism world in 2005, he spent 15 years as a freelance IT contractor focused on endpoint security and security training.