Nexusguard research reveals 1,000% increase in DNS amplification attacks since last year

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Photo by Negative Space on Pexels
Photo by Negative Space on Pexels

Domain Name System (DNS) amplification attacks swelled in the second quarter of this year, with the amplified attacks spiking more than 1,000% compared with Q2 2018, according to Nexusguard’s “Q2 2019 Threat Report.”

According to Cloudflare, this type of cyberattack works by overwhelming a target server or network with a large volume of spurious traffic generated by bots sending spoof requests to multiple DNS.

Nexusguard researchers attributed Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) with fueling the new wave of DNS amplification attacks, which accounted for more than 65% of the attacks last quarter according to the team’s evaluation of thousands of worldwide DDoS attacks.

DNSSEC was designed to protect applications from using forged or manipulated DNS data, and its growing adoption suggests that DNS amplification risks won’t disappear for service providers or enterprise networks anytime soon.

According to the quarterly report, Paypal.com and multiple government domains fell victim to rampant DNS abuses, likely due to many of these domains deploying DNSSEC to the top-level .gov domain, as required by the U.S. government’s mandate from the Office of Management and Budget.

“Although the adoption of DNSSEC is gaining wider acceptance as the patch for fixing DNS cache poisoning, it is now causing a new set of problems for organizations and service providers,” said Juniman Kasman, chief technology officer for Nexusguard. “Due to the long responses they generate, attackers often abuse DNSSEC to launch amplification attacks that clog victim networks and hosts, which will remain a significant threat in the future.”

Nexusguard findings also confirm that “bit and piece” attacks continued to spread this quarter, adopted for attacks across Europe, North America and Africa. Here, attackers inject small amounts of junk into the legitimate traffic flowing from the IPs, which easily bypass detection thresholds because there’s so little of it per address.

Mobile devices also continued to contribute to DDoS attacks, which primarily originated from iOS mobile devices in addition to botnet-hijacked Windows machines.

Tina Chee, Director of A10 networks writes that the Singapore government has taken measured steps to ensure that both businesses and citizens are adequately protected, in light of the disruption such attacks can cause.

However,  she continues, “in the light of today’s increasingly sophisticated threats, organisations need to take a layered approach for their DDoS defenses – this means adding on-premise protection that is always-on and can provide real-time detection and mitigation.”