Light Reading

When Size Matters

Carol Wilson
10/18/2013
50%
50%

It is easy to get lost in the numbers when discussing distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks and other network breaches but the figures Arbor Networks released this week regarding DDoS attacks are worthy of special note. They are a strong indication of new threats for which network operators need to be prepared. (See Arbor Sees Alarming Rise in Size of DDoS Attacks.)

Those numbers come from the 275 network operators that are customers of Arbor Networks Inc. 's Atlas network security system and regularly report troublesome activity. They show that larger bit-per-second attacks are back in vogue, and have grown so rapidly they threaten to not only cause massive problems for their targeted companies but also for networks in general.

For the past couple of years, larger packet-per-second attacks were more the norm, says Darren Anstee, solutions architect team manager for Arbor. Those tend to exhaust forwarding performance.

Last March, however, the largest single cyber-attack to date was launched against the servers of Spamhaus, a non-profit agency that battles spam. Since that attack, the trend has been to ever larger bit-per-second attacks. The Spamhaus attack, which hit 300 Gbit/s, affected Internet traffic globally and hurt many businesses in the process.

And here are the staggering numbers: There has been more than 350 percent growth in the number of attacks monitored at greater than 20 Gbit/s so far this year, as compared to 2012. The average DDoS attack in 2013 is currently measured at 2.64 Gbit/s, up 78 percent from last year.

That's of particular concern to service providers because attacks of that size will not only swamp the resources of the target company but can also swamp aggregation routers serving that company and others, and create major congestion issues for the network in general.

"There is a much broader range of organizations that are going to get their Internet connectivity completely saturated by an average attack," says Anstee. "They will be dependent on their service providers or on cloud-based protection to deal with that."

These attacks are being launched either by cyber-criminals, who use them as distractions for other activity or as "take-outs" for extortion or other purposes, or by so-called "hacktivists," who for a variety of ideological reasons, target various companies or web operations for attack to make a political point.

Two suspects have been arrested in the Spamhaus attack, for example, one a Dutch participant in countercultural ISP and one a UK schoolboy who was apparently making considerable money from Internet activity. They targeted Spamhaus because of its efforts to identify and stop spam email that poses security threats.

Because it's harder to predict where attacks will come from next, it's become much more important to prepare for them, Anstee says. And that means making sure there are solutions in place to help customers who are attacked, as well as protection for the service providers' infrastructure to prevent or respond to collateral damage from these massive attacks.

"Since we are seeing more very large attacks -- we saw a 191Gbits/sec attack in August -- service providers also need to be looking at capacity planning models for their mitigation infrastructure," he warns. As the size of average and peak attacks grows, network operators must make sure they can deal with these larger threats.

As I said at the outset, it's easy to get lost in such staggering figures, but the latest warnings are not something to glaze over. There have been many other warnings as well, and expressions of concern that service providers aren't taking the rapidly growing threats seriously. Given that Arbor's numbers come straight from the networks themselves, this is proof of what lies ahead, ready or not. (See Security Threat Intensifies for Service Providers.)

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

(6)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
pdonegan67
50%
50%
pdonegan67,
User Rank: Light Sabre
10/21/2013 | 4:37:48 AM
Re: Are we shock-proof?
I started researching the service provider security space three or four years ago and was immediately struck by the confluence of proven incidents of attacks that have had truly devastating effects alongside some positively steaming shovels full of fear-mongering bullshit on the part of some security vendors. The two really do co-exist.

As my research has gone on, I've found that the pitching of security solutions into the service provider space is typically quite a lot more sober than it is into the enterprise.

Very few service providers fall for the histrionics-based sell, in my experience This is either because they're highly security-savvy and know how to categorize risks according to the threat level they represent.

Or (as is still too often the case) it's because they can't differentiate different threat levels, can't be bothered to, and don't much care about anything beyond the next quarter's revenue target. In the case of these guys, if they invested in the right security solutions they might find that a couple of unexplained outages which suspended their ability to bill during the quarter were actually caused by malicious attacks but hey, why let that interfere with sound accountant-led thinking, right?

I'm actually struck by how sober and business-case oriented most pitching of security solutions to service providers is these days. I'm also struck, not coincidentally, by the relatively high rate of failure among the minority of security solution vendors who shriek with scant evidence that the sky is falling in. They often find that it's actually them that the sky subsequently falls in on where service provider business is concerned.

Where Arbor Networks is concerned I've an interest to declare in that I've done quite a bit of work with them. They have laced my palm with silver. They're one of the sponsors of Light Reading's second Mobile Network Security conference that I'm chairing in New York on December 5th, for example (see our LIve Events listing).

So take this with a pinch of salt if you will, but when I talk to service providers, the feedback I get about Arbor is that they are one of a select few companies whose opinions and solutions for service provider security are nearly always taken very seriously pretty much anywhere in the world.

Better still, ask around yourself, and see if you encounter a different pattern. I'd be very surprised.
Carol Wilson
50%
50%
Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
10/18/2013 | 7:35:35 PM
Re: Are we shock-proof?
Hacktivists are organizations with a political ax to grind - think Anonymous or Wikileaks -- and their wanna-bes - who launch attacks to make a point, and not necessarily for profit. 

That is a trend we should possibly be following more closely. 
Carol Wilson
50%
50%
Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
10/18/2013 | 7:33:54 PM
Re: Are we shock-proof?
I actually did a rather extensive search of the SpamHaus attack and never saw anything that said it was a PR hoax. A number of respected tech sites took this very seriously so if it is a hoax, it was wildly successful, fooling Cnet, Cisco, slashdot, zdnet, reddit and nextweb. 

I assume the organization you are criticizing is Cloudflare? I did find two reports criticizing them for exaggerating the potential impact of the SpamHaus attack, claiming it could have "broken" the Internet. But even critics admit this was a serious attack. 

Arbor isn't saying these larger attacks are breaking the Internet and yes, they have something to sell toe service providers but no one is hiding that, and being aware of ever larger DDoS attacks is still a good idea. 
prtrumpsreality
50%
50%
prtrumpsreality,
User Rank: Light Beer
10/18/2013 | 5:58:27 PM
Re: Are we shock-proof?
You shuld check facts better.  The SpamHaous attack was so small, that nobody (except spamhaus) noticed.

The publicity campaign that was kicked off by the comapny they hired to fix their problem however, made up some numbers so crazy, that everyone saw "largets in history", and that PR has now replaced the truth.

the Spamhaus ISP published their traffic logs for the period in question in response, showing that there was no discernable peak or spike in data.  

It seem nothing can beat a good PR advertising campaign though :-(
pzernik
50%
50%
pzernik,
User Rank: Light Sabre
10/18/2013 | 5:34:53 PM
Re: Are we shock-proof?
Hi Carol.  What exactly are hacktivist groups and what are their motives?  Can LR do an article on this subject? 
Carol Wilson
50%
50%
Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
10/18/2013 | 3:47:42 PM
Are we shock-proof?
Arbor has been tracking this stuff longer than most and while they usually have some shocking numbers to share, this current report is truly disturbing. 
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
More Blogs from Rewired
Some folks say they'll never forgo six-nines reliability and 50 millisecond restoration standards, but there are definite signs Web 2.0 approaches are taking hold.
After almost three decades of writing about fiber-to-the-home, I'm finally getting it and I'm going for the whole gig.
Alliance with Deloitte creates one-stop shop of cyberattack mitigation by adding governance, risk management and compliance consulting.
Rutberg's Rejeev Chand gets FCC's Clbyburn plus Google Fiber and DISH execs to play the true-false game, with interesting results.
New open source group provides substantial industry insight at MWC -- here's hoping they keep up the effort to keep non-members informed.
Flash Poll
From The Founder
Last week I dropped in on "Hotlanta," Georgia to moderate Light Reading's inaugural DroneComm conference – a unique colloquium investigating the potential for drone communications to disrupt the world's telecom ecosystem. As you will see, it was a day of exploration and epiphany...
LRTV Documentaries
Cable Eyeing SDN for Headend, Home Uses

5|26|15   |   05:57   |   (1) comment


CableLabs is looking at virtualizing CMTS and CCAP devices in the headend, as well as in-home devices, says CableLabs' Karthik Sundaresan.
LRTV Documentaries
Verizon's Emmons: SDN Key to Cost-Effective Scaling

5|22|15   |   03:53   |   (0) comments


For Verizon and other network operators to ramp up available bandwidth cost effectively, they need to move to SDN and agree on how to do that.
LRTV Documentaries
Lack of Universal SDN a Challenge

5|21|15   |   04:51   |   (3) comments


Heavy Reading Analyst Sterling Perrin talks about how uncertainty about SDN standards and approaches may be slowing deployment.
LRTV Custom TV
Steve Vogelsang Interview: Carrier SDN

5|20|15   |   05:02   |   (0) comments


Sterling Perrin speaks to Steve Vogelsang, Alcatel-Lucent CTO for IP Routing & Transport business, about the new Carrier SDN-enabling Network Services Platform and the operator challenges it solves.
LRTV Custom TV
Carrier SDN: On-Demand Networks for an On-Demand World

5|20|15   |   20:52   |   (0) comments


Steve Vogelsang, Alcatel-Lucent CTO for IP Routing & Transport business, talks about requirements and benefits of Carrier SDN during the keynote address at the Light Reading Carrier SDN event May 2015.
LRTV Documentaries
The Security Challenge of SDN

5|19|15   |   02:52   |   (0) comments


CenturyLink VP James Feger discusses concerns that virtualization could create new vulnerabilities unless network operators build in safeguards.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV Elasticity – Highly Available VNF Scale-Out Architectures for the Mobile Edge

5|18|15   |   5:50   |   (0) comments


Peter Marek and Paul Stevens from Advantech Networks and Communications Group talk about their NFV Elasticity initiative and the company's latest platforms for deploying virtual network functions at the edge of the network. Packetarium XL and the new Versatile Server Module: 'designed to reach parts of the network that other servers cannot reach.'
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Bay Area Spark Meetup 2015

5|14|15   |   3:54   |   (0) comments


Developed in 2009, Apache Spark is a powerful open source processing engine built around speed, ease of use and sophisticated analytics. This spring, Huawei hosted a meetup for Spark developers and data scientists in Santa Clara, California. Light Reading spoke with organizers and attendees about Huawei's code contributions and long-term commitment to Spark.
LRTV Custom TV
The Transport SDN Buzz

5|12|15   |   06:01   |   (1) comment


Sterling Perrin, senior analyst at Heavy Reading, speaks with Peter Ashwood-Smith of Huawei and Guru Parulkar of ON.Lab about the evolution of transport SDN and the integration of technologies.
LRTV Custom TV
Next-Generation CCAP: Cisco cBR-8 Evolved CCAP

5|5|15   |   04:49   |   (0) comments


John Chapman, Cisco's CTO of Cable Access Business Unit and Cisco Fellow, explained the innovation design of Cisco's cBR-8, the industry's first Evolved CCAP, including DOCSIS 3.1 design from ground-up, distributed CCAP with Remote PHY and path to virtualization. Cisco's cBR-8 Evolved CCAP is the platform that will last through the transitions.
LRTV Custom TV
Meeting the Demands of Bandwidth & Service Group Growth

5|1|15   |   5:35   |   (0) comments


Jorge Salinger, Comcast's Vice President of Access Architecture, explains how DOCSIS 3.1 and multi-service CCAP can meet the demands of the bandwidth and service group growth.
LRTV Custom TV
DOCSIS 3.1: Transforming Cable From Hardware-Defined Network to Software-Defined Network

4|29|15   |   03:48   |   (0) comments


John Chapman, Cisco's CTO of Cable Access Business Unit and Cisco Fellow, explains how DOCSIS 3.1 can transform cable HFC network to a more agile software-defined network.
Upcoming Live Events
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 10, 2015, Chicago, IL
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
October 6, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
October 6, 2015, Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Procera has gathered facts, stats and customer experience feedback from a survey of 540 users from across the globe.
Hot Topics
10 Alternate Uses for Tablets
Eryn Leavens, Copy Desk Editor, 5/22/2015
Bidding War for TWC Looks Likelier
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 5/22/2015
Charter Seals Deals for TWC, Bright House
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 5/26/2015
Eurobites: Alcatel-Lucent Trials 400G in Czech Republic
Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, 5/26/2015
Comcast Targets 6 New Gigabit Markets
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 5/21/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
On May 29th 10 AM ET, Steve Saunders, founder and CEO of Light Reading, will be drilling into the "pains and gains" of NFV with Saar Gillai, SVP & GM for NFV at Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) (HP). He has defined a four-step NFV model describing a sequence of technology innovation. It's a must-read doc for any network architect looking to get to grips with their NFV migration strategy. Join us for the interview, and the chance to ask Saar your NFV questions directly!
With 200 customers in 60 countries, Stockholm-based Net Insight has carved out a solid leadership position in one of the hottest vertical markets going in comms right now: helping service providers and broadcasters deliver video and other multimedia traffic over IP networks. How has Net Insight managed to achieve this success in the face of immense competition from the industry giants?
My ongoing interview tour of the leading minds of the telecom industry recently took me to Richardson, Texas, where I met with Rod Naphan, CTO and SVP, Solutions, ...
Cats with Phones