Akamai Warns of Reflection DDoS Attacks Using Millions of UPnP Devices
Poorly configured Universal Plug-and-Play devices could be used to launch massive denial-of-service attacks, according to Akamai.More than 4 million consumer and business devices—such as routers, media servers and Web cams—could be conscripted by attackers to participate in a distributed denial-of-service attack because of weaknesses in the Universal Plug-and-Play (UPnP) standard, Internet infrastructure firm Akamai warned in an advisory posted on Oct. 15. Attackers have exploited the protocol to send control messages to UPnP devices, discovering a way to trigger a response from the devices that can be directed to inundate a targeted network, Akamai stated in its advisory. DDoS attacks using the approach have been steadily increasing since July, when Akamai first detected the technique and now account for 7.3 percent of infrastructure attacks, Rod Soto, principal security researcher with Akamai’s Prolexic Security Engineering and Research Team (PLXsert), told eWEEK. "It is a huge number for a new denial-of-service vector," he said.
Reflection and amplification attacks use unauthenticated communications within the Internet infrastructure to distribute the apparent sources of an attack and magnify the volume of data sent to a target. Reflection attacks send forged network requests to vulnerable devices—Domain Name Service (DNS) and Network Time Protocol (NTP) servers are common—which then respond to the spoofed source address. The attacks appear to come from a large number of devices, rather than the few systems controlling the attack. Amplification attacks work similarly, but are focused on protocols that have large responses compared to the request size. NTP servers, for example, can be manipulated into magnifying a 64-byte request by a factor of more than 700.