Vietnam, India and Indonesia might not have the most advanced Internet infrastructure, but they do have a large number of insecure smartphones coming online, making them the big botnet sources for next year’s distributed denial of service attacks, according to a report released today by Black Lotus Communications, a DDOS mitigation vendor.
“They have a lot of young people just getting their smartphones, specifically Android smartphones,” said Frank Ip, the company’s vice president of business development.
These new users are more susceptible to phishing, and are less aware of how to secure their devices, he added.
“We’ve been seeing that trend in the last two quarters,” he said.
A single smartphone is already a powerful computing device, he said, and when combined with wireless networks in extremely large numbers, they can add up to a significant threat.
In 2014, however, China was the single biggest source of DDOS attacks, the report said, followed by the United States and Russia.
Again, the reason China was in the lead because of the available number of potentially vulnerable devices.
“It’s nothing about a particular nation state,” Ip said. “And it doesn’t mean that the attack initiator is in China. It could be carried out by somebody anywhere in the world.”
China has bandwidth, he said, and, as a developing nation, many people are going to Internet Cafes to surf the web.
“Because of a lack of controls, a lot of those are using illegal copies of Microsoft, and there are a lot of infections from malware,” he said. “It’s a very popular place to do a botnet.”
The motives for the attacks are straightforward — money.
“We don’t see a lot of vandalism, or political attacks,” said Ip. “The majority of attacks are financially motivated, like extortion.”
Criminals start out with a small attack against a company, and send a ransom note to the IT department.
Most people know better than to pay, but a few do, especially because the amounts are usually low. At first.
“If you start paying them once, they’ll come back to you against because they know you’re an easy target,” Ip said.
However, if the hackers know that a company is prepared to deal with the attacks, they’ll move on to other targets.
Black Lotus dealt with more than a million separate DDOS attacks so far this year, Ip said.
However, the bulk of them took place early this year — nearly half a million in the first quarter, more than quarter million in the second quarter, and just above 200,000 in the third quarter.
Some of that is due to hackers learning that the particular companies that RedSeal works with are defended, and moving to more vulnerable targets.
In addition, the security community publishes botnet information and networks get more effective at shutting down or blocking the botnets.
There is also a seasonal factor to DDOS attacks, Ip said, so the downward trajectory might not continue for the fourth quarter.
“It’s the high season for shopping,” he said. “That triggers more of the attacks.”
The report also showed a change in the style of attack, with the average attack bit volume increasing, while the average attack package volume decreasing. This shows that attackers are moving away from simple attacks based on large numbers of messages to more complex attacks using multiple vectors.
This includes “both application layer attacks and SYN flood attacks blended together,” the report said.
During the first quarter of the year, there were NTP DrDoS attacks of record-breaking bit volumes, but, over time, attackers could no longer find as many vulnerable NTP daemons with which to amplify their attacks.
A DrDos attack, or distributed denial-of-service, is one where requests are sent to computers that will reply to those requests — except that the return address is spoofed, and instead of replying to the attacker, the replies are sent to the target.