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Largest DDoS Attack Ever Is Over; Used Unsecured DNS
Largest DDoS Attack Ever Is Over; Used Unsecured DNS

By Barry Levine
March 28, 2013 11:20AM

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The attackers used an amplified DNS reflection technique, in which a DNS request is sent that pretends to come from the victim site, and the unsecured DNS server responds to the site. DNS servers that have not been properly secured can amplify an incoming request, resulting in responses that could be 50 times the request, overwhelming the victim site.
 



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CyberBunker Takes Credit

To counter the attack, CloudFlare used a technology called AnyCast, in which the company's data centers around the world present the same IP address, and the traffic is redirected -- and thinned out -- among the centers. In retaliation, the attackers directed their fire directly at CloudFlare, and then moved upstream to attack CloudFlare's bandwidth providers. The overflow caused major problems for Internet users, particularly in Europe.

The New York Times reported that CyberBunker has taken credit for the attack. The Dutch Web site hosting service has noted that "nobody every deputized Spamhaus to determine what goes and does not go on the Internet." Spamhaus, however, only offers lists to e-mail providers, who then determine which sources to block.

'Fat, Juicy Target'

CyberBunker's Web site boasts that "Dutch authorities and the police," as well as a Dutch SWAT team, have "made several attempts to enter the bunker by force," but none of the attempts were successful. The company is housed in a building referenced by its name -- a five-story former NATO bunker.

Peter Firstbrook, an analyst at Gartner, noted that "DNS is a pretty big, fat, juicy target," and added that, overall, it is not yet "a secure technology." He pointed out that CyberBunker "is not really serving its own interests" in this kind of attack.

To shame hosting providers into securing their DNS, CloudFlare has been publishing the names of providers that maintain the largest number of unsecured DNS resolvers, a tactic which the company said has decreased open DNS resolvers by 30 percent over four months.

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