Category Archives: DDoS

Threat visibility is imperative, but it’s even more essential to act

Cyberthreats are escalating faster than many organizations can identify, block and mitigate them. Visibility into the expanding threat landscape is imperative, but according to a new threat report released by CenturyLink, it is even more essential to act. “As companies focus on digital innovation, they are entering a world of unprecedented threat and risk,” said Mike Benjamin, head of CenturyLink’s threat research and operations division, Black Lotus Labs. “Threats continue to evolve, as do bad … More

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Security leaders lack confidence in the supply chain, fear third-party attacks

An overwhelming number of cybersecurity professionals (89%) have expressed concerns about the third-party managed service providers (MSPs) they partner with being hacked, according to new research from the Neustar International Security Council. Survey participants in July 2019 comprise 314 professionals from across six EMEA and US markets. While most organizations reported working with an average of two to three MSPs, less than a quarter (24%) admitted to feeling very confident in the safety barriers they … More

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Wikipedia and World of Warcraft Classic targeted by DDoS attacks

Uou can imagine the pain that was caused to pub quiz cheats and students writing essays this weekend when crowd-sourced internet encyclopedia Wikipedia, one of the world’s most popular websites, was hit by a distributed denial-of-service attack.

Read more in my article on the Hot for Security blog.

Top 6 Plesk Security Extensions You Should Consider for Website Security

As one of the most popular hosting platforms alongside cPanel, Plesk provides a variety of security extensions for its users. Each Plesk security extension boosts their own unique features, meant to fully protect your website, server, email, and network from potential threats.

Some extensions on Plesk require advanced system administration, so it’s important that you choose the right security tools based on your knowledge and experience — as not all security extensions are created equal. 

While Plesk offers a range of security tools such as malware scanners or ransomware protection software, this blog post will focus on security extensions that are available on Plesk that provide protection against web application attacks and DoS and DDoS attacks. 

These types of web threats directly affect web applications and can result in your websites going offline. In this case, customers and visitors are denied access to your information and commercial services, which will negatively impact your business’s bottom line.

Take a look below at some of the most popular security extensions available on Plesk and how they can help prevent web attacks as well as their potential shortcomings. 

BitNinja

BitNinja specializes in server security; their Plesk security extension is designed to effectively eliminate threats from your Linux servers. The security extension is also meant to save you from having to perform any configurations and spend long hours of troubleshooting.

Because BitNinja’s security extension is equipped with DoS mitigation and a WAF (web application firewall), they protect against web application and DDoS attacks. Their DDoS mitigation works based on TCP based protocols, but instead of permanently blocking the IP source they “greylist” the attacker IP.

On the WAF side, they analyze incoming traffic to your server based on different factors and stops attacks against the applications running on your server. They utilize the same WAF model used by Cloudflare and Incapsula. More specifically, for their reverse proxy engine, they use Nginx, WAF engine by ModSecurity, and a ruleset from the OWASP. One downside to BitNinja is that they are unable to constantly update and finetune the WAF ruleset or implement other rulesets in real time. 

Variti DDoS

The Variti DDoS security extension focuses on protection against DoS and DDoS attacks. They do this by allowing incoming web traffic to pass through a distributed network of filtering nodes. Then, traffic is analyzed in real time and classified as either legitimate or illegitimate. Upon detection of a threat, their Active Bot Protection (ABP) technology immediately blocks this malicious traffic with a response time of less than 50 ms.

Because of this bot protection technology, Variti is able to distinguish traffic between real users and bots, including those coming from the same IP address. Thus, they can also protect against both network and application layer DDoS attacks.  Though it doesn’t offer a WAF, Variti is one of the few DDoS protection tools that are available on Plesk. 

ModSecurity

ModSecurity is arguably one of the most well-known WAFs. They support web servers such as Apache on Linux or IIS on Windows, to protect web applications from malicious attacks. ModSecurity works by checking incoming HTTP requests and based on the set of rules applied, ModSecurity either allows the HTTP request to enter the website or blocks it. 

The ModSecurity security extension on Plesk offers both free and paid sets of rules. It includes regular expressions that are used for HTTP requests filtering, but you can also apply custom rulesets. This may require extensive knowledge on WAF rules by the system administrator. For example, you may need to manually switch off certain security rules so maintenance of the rulesets can be a setback for those who are looking for a more hands-off WAF.

Furthermore, there have also been cases where customers experience ModSecurity blocking legitimate requests too when too many rules are applied. 

Cloudflare Servershield 

The Cloudflare Servershield security extension is intended to protect and secure your servers, applications and APIs against DoS/DDoS and other web attacks. While the security extension is primarily used to speed up websites, Cloudflare Servershield also offers WAF and DDoS protection.

Cloudflare’s WAF option and its rulesets can only be enabled on their paid plans – more specifically the Cloudflare Servershield Advanced extension on Plesk. Cloudflare’s WAF uses the OWASP Modsecurity Core Rule Set to inspect web traffic and block illegitimate requests. These OWASP rules are supplemented by Cloudflare’s built-in rules that you can apply with the click of a button. 

As part of their free plan, Cloudflare provides unlimited and unmetered mitigation of DDoS attacks, regardless of the size of an attack.

Imunify360

Imunify360 takes a multi-layered approach when it comes to server security. This security extension combines an advanced firewall, WAF, IDS/IPS, and more. Their advanced firewall is also powered by a machine learning engine. They take a proactive defense to preemptively stop all malware and identify potential attacks on your server. 

Their WAF protects web servers from multiple threats, such as DoS attacks, port scans, and distributed brute force attacks. Their WAF also relies on ModSecurity and is automatically installed on certain versions of Imunify360. Because other third-party ModSecurity vendor’s rulesets may be installed (for example, OWASP or Comodo), these rulesets can generate a large number of false-positives and may duplicate Imunify360’s rulesets.

You will need to manually disable other third-party ModSecurity vendors on different hosting panels.

Cloudbric

To simplify the management of website security, Cloudbric’s cloud-based WAF is integrated with the Plesk platform. The Cloudbric WAF extension also includes DDoS protection and SSL certificate renewal automation at no extra cost. 

Instead of painfully blocking the customer’s IP address individually to keep DDoS attacks under control, Cloudbric blocks these huge amounts of traffic before it reaches the site. Cloudbric’s advanced DDos protection ensures your website stays up and running. 

The Cloudbric WAF is designed to install and work with as little human interaction as possible. We handle the security so that customers don’t have to. Unlike ModSecurity which maintains a library of malicious patterns, known as signatures, Cloudbric takes it up a notch by also implementing signature-less detection techniques into the WAF engine. 

Additionally, unlike the rules of ModSecurity that are updated once per month, Cloudbric’s WAF does not require signature updates. 

This signature-less detection technology can also identify and block modified and new web application attacks. Cloudbric’s WAF engine includes 27 unique pre-set rules and AI capabilities to create an advanced threat detection engine to accurately detect and block attacks. 

If your company is dependent on online traffic for business, then protection against DDoS and web application attacks is a must. 

For Plesk users, there are a variety of security extensions to choose from to make the management of security extremely easy for web managers, designers, system administrators, and other web professionals – it all depends on your security needs and whether you are looking for fully managed services or customization. 

If you need assistance with Cloudbric’s plesk extension email us at support@cloudbric.com.

The post Top 6 Plesk Security Extensions You Should Consider for Website Security appeared first on Cloudbric.

Blocking DDoS Attacks Using Automation

Guest article by Adrian Taylor, Regional Vice President at A10 Networks

DDoS attacks can be catastrophic, but the right knowledge and tactics can drastically improve your chances of successfully mitigating attacks. In this article, we’ll explore the five ways, listed below, that automation can significantly improve response times during a DDoS attack while assessing the means to block such attacks.

Response time is critical for every enterprise because, in our hyper-connected world, DDoS attacks cause downtime, and downtime means money lost. The longer your systems are down, the more your profits will sink.

Let’s take a closer look at all the ways that automation can put time on your side during a DDoS attack. But first, let’s clarify just how much time an automated defence system can save.

Automated vs. Manual Response Time
Sure, automated DDoS defence is faster than manual DDoS defence, but by how much?

Founder and CEO of NimbusDDoS Andy Shoemaker recently conducted a study to find out. The results spoke volumes: automated DDoS defence improves attack response time five-fold.

The average response time using automated defence was just six minutes, compared to 35 minutes using manual processes, a staggering 29-minute difference. In some cases, the automated defence was even able to eliminate response time completely.

An automated defence system cuts down on response time in five major ways. Such systems can:

  • Instantly detect incoming attacks: Using the data it has collected during peace time, an automated DDoS defence system can instantly identify suspicious traffic that could easily be missed by human observers.
  • Redirect traffic accordingly: In a reactive deployment, once an attack has been detected, an automated DDoS defence system can redirect the malicious traffic to a shared mitigation scrubbing center – no more manual BGP routing announcements of suspicious traffic.
  • Apply escalation mitigation strategies: During the attack’s onslaught of traffic, an automated DDoS defence system will take action based on your defined policies in an adaptive fashion while minimising collateral damage to legitimate traffic.
  • Identify patterns within attack traffic: By carefully inspecting vast amounts of attack traffic in a short period of time, an automated DDoS defence system can extract patterns in real-time to block zero-day botnet attacks.
  • Apply current DDoS threat intelligence: An automated DDoS defence system can access real-time, research-driven IP blocklists and DDoS weapon databases and apply that intelligence to all network traffic destined for the protected zone.
An intelligent automated DDoS defence system doesn’t stop working after an attack, either. Once the attack has been successfully mitigated, it will generate detailed reports you and your stakeholders can use for forensic analysis and for communicating with other stakeholders.

Although DDoS attackers will never stop innovating and adapting, neither will automated and intelligent DDoS protection systems.

By using an automated system to rapidly identify and mitigate threats with the help of up-to-date threat intelligence, enterprises can defend themselves from DDoS attacks as quickly as bad actors can launch them.

Three key strategies to block DDoS attacks
While it’s crucial to have an automated system in place that can quickly respond to attacks, it’s equally important to implement strategies that help achieve your goal of ensuring service availability to legitimate users.

After all, DDoS attacks are asynchronous in nature: You can’t prevent the attacker from launching an attack, but with three critical strategies in place, you can be resilient to the attack, while protecting your users.

Each of the three methods listed below is known as a source-based DDoS mitigation strategy. Source-based strategies implement cause as a basis for choosing what traffic to block. The alternative of destination-based mitigation relies on traffic shaping to prevent the system from falling over.

While destination traffic shaping is effective in preserving system health from being overwhelmed during an attack, it is equally fraught with indiscriminate collateral damage to legitimate users.

Tracking deviation: A tracking deviation strategy works by observing traffic on an ongoing basis to learn what qualifies as normal and what represents a threat.
  • Specifically, a defence system can analyse data rate or query rate from multiple characteristics (e.g. BPS, PPS, SYN-FIN ratio, session rate, etc.) to determine which traffic is legitimate and which is malicious or may identify bots or spoofed traffic by their inability to answer challenge questions.
Pattern recognition: A pattern recognition strategy uses machine learning to parse unusual patterns of behaviour commonly exhibited by DDoS botnets and reflected amplification attacks in real time.
  • For example, DDoS attacks are initiated by a motivated attacker that leverages an orchestration platform providing the distributed weapons with instructions on how to flood the victim with unwanted traffic. The common command and control (C&C) and distributed attack exhibit patterns that can be leveraged as a causal blocking strategy.
Reputation: To utilise reputation as a source-based blocking strategy, a DDoS defence system will use threat intelligence provided by researchers of DDoS botnet IP addresses, in addition to tens of millions of exposed servers used in reflected amplification attacks.
  • The system will then use that intelligence to block any matching IP addresses during an attack.
Any of these three source-based DDoS mitigation strategies requires more computing capabilities than indiscriminate destination protection.

They do, however, have the significant advantage of being able to prevent legitimate users from being blocked, thereby reducing downtime and preventing unnecessarily lost profits.

Knowing that, it’s safe to say that these three mitigation strategies are all well worth the investment.

Adrian Taylor, Regional Vice President at A10 Networks

Cyber Security Roundup for April 2019

The UK government controversially gave a green light to Huawei get involved with the building of the UK's 5G networks, although the Chinese tech giant role will be limited to non-sensitive areas of the network, such as providing antennas. This decision made by Theresa May came days after US intelligence announced Huawei was Chinese state funded, and amidst reports historical backdoors in Huawei products, stoking up the Huawei political and security row even further this month, and has resulted in the UK Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson, being sacked. 
The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) launched a free online tool called "Exercise in a Box", designed by the UK cyber intelligence boffins to help organisations prepare in managing major cyber attacks.  The premise, is the tool will help UK organisations avoid scenarios such as the 2017’s Wannacry attacks, which devastated NHS IT systems and placed patient lives at risk.
 
German drug manufacturing giant, Beyer, found a malware infection, said to originate from a Chinese group called "Wicked Panda".  The malware in question was WINNIT, which is known in the security industry and allows remote access into networks, allowing hackers to deliver further malware and to conduct exploits. In my view, the presence of WINNIT is a sure sign a covert and sustained campaign by a sophisticated threat actor, likely focused on espionage given the company's sector.  Beyer stressed there was no evidence of data theft, but were are still investigating. 
 
Another manufacturing giant severely hit by a cyber attack this month was Aebi Schmidt. A ransomware outbreak impacted its business' operations globally, with most of the damage occurring at their European base. The ransomware wasn't named, but it left multiple Windows systems, on their presumably flat network infrastructure, paralyzed.
 
Facebook may have announced the dawn of their "privacy evolution" at the end of April, but their privacy woes still continue, after Upguard researchers found and reported 540 Million Facebook member records on an unsecured AWS S3 bucket. The "Cultura Colectiva" dataset contained 146GB of data with 540 million records showing comments, likes, reactions, account names, Facebook IDs and more. Looks like Facebook really have their work cut in restoring their consumer's faith in protecting their privacy.
 
UK businesses saw a significant increase in cyber attacks in 2019 according to a report by insurer Hiscox, with 55% of respondents reporting they had faced a cyber attack in 2019, up from 40% from last year.
 
A survey by the NCSC concluded most UK users are still using weak passwords. Released just before CyberUK 2019 conference in Glasgow, which I was unable attend due work commitments, said the most common password on breached accounts was"123456", used by 23.2 million accounts worldwide. Next on the list was "123456789" and "qwerty", "password" and "1111111".  Liverpool was the most common Premier League Football team used as a password, with Blink 182 the most common music act. The NCSC also published a separate analysis of the 100,000 most commonly re-occurring passwords that have been accessed by third parties in global cyber breaches. So password still remains the biggest Achilles' heel with our security.

The UK hacktivist threat came back to the fore this month, after the Anonymous Group took revenge on the UK government for arresting WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, by attacking Yorkshire Councils. I am not sure what Yorkshire link with Assange actually is, but the website for Barnsley Council was taken down by a DDoS attack, a tweet from the group CyberGhost404 linked to the crashed Barnsley Council website and said "Free Assange or chaos is coming for you!". A tweet from an account called 'Anonymous Espana' with an image, suggested they had access to Bedale Council's confidential files, and were threatening to leak them. 
 
Microsoft Outlook.com, Hotmail and MSN users are reported as having their accounts compromised. TechCrunch revealed the breach was caused due to the hackers getting hold of a customer support tech's login credentials. Over two million WiFi passwords were found exposed on an open database by the developer of WiFi Finder. The WiFi Finder App helps to find and log into hotspots.  Two in every three hotel websites leak guest booking details and personal data according to a report. Over 1,500 hotels in 54 countries failed to protect user information.
 
Finally, but not lest, a great report by Recorded Future on the raise of the dark web business of credential stuffing, titled "The Economy of Credential Stuffing Attacks". The report explains how low-level criminals use automated 'checkers' tools to validate compromised credentials, before selling them on.

I am aware of school children getting sucked into this illicit world, typically starts with them seeking to take over better online game accounts after their own account is compromised, they quickly end up with more money than they can spend. Aside from keeping an eye on what your children are up to online as a parent, it goes to underline the importance of using unique complex passwords with every web account (use a password manager or vault to help you - see password security section on the Security Expert website). And always use Multi-Factor Authentication where available, and if you suspect or have are informed your account 'may' have compromised, change your password straight away.

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