1,000 Percent Increase in DNS Amplification Attacks Since Last Year, Says Nexusguard

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DNS amplification attacks swelled in the 2nd 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.’ Nexusguard findings also confirm that ‘bit and piece’ attacks continued to spread this quarter.

Nexusguard researchers attributed Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) with fueling the new wave of DNS amplification attacks. DNSSEC 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. Its growing adoption suggests that DNS amplification risks won’t disappear for service providers or enterprise networks anytime soon, according to the Nexusguard quarterly report.

Paypal.com, .gov Domains

Juniman Kasman
“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 (CTO) of Nexusguard.

The report also revealed that rampant DNS abuses to which Paypal.com and multiple government domains fell victim were 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.

When blocking DNS amplification attacks, it would not be realistic to drop all DNS associated traffic. Internet users rely on DNS services though to access the Internet, and the tactic could deny service to paying customers. Nexusguard researchers warn that service providers must ensure their attack mitigation technology is advanced enough to ensure server availability to legitimate end users – to ensure their access doesn’t become collateral damage.

“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 (CTO) of 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.”

iOS Mobile Devices

Nexusguard findings also confirm that ‘bit and piece’ attacks continued to spread in the 2nd quarter of 2019, adopted for attacks across Europe, North America and Africa. Mobile devices also continued to contribute to DDoS attacks, which primarily originated from iOS mobile devices in addition to botnet-hijacked Windows machines.

Nexusguard’s quarterly DDoS threat research gathers attack data from botnet scanning, honeypots, cloud service providers (CSPs) and traffic moving between attackers and their targets. The quarterly report is meant to help companies identify vulnerabilities and stay informed about global cyber security trends.