Ixia Generates Malicious Traffic for Network, Cloud Security Testing

Ixia's IxLoad-Attack testing application can generate malicious traffic such as DDOS attacks and over VPN connections to give security managers a view of how well their security products perform.

Ixia is offering IT security administrators a network vulnerability testing tool that can detect and exploit vulnerabilities in both enterprise networks and cloud computing environments.

The IxLoad-Attack recreates malicious traffic and floods the network to detect and exploit known vulnerabilities. With this testing kit, security managers can thoroughly test cloud infrastructures as well as enterprise, government, and service provider networks.

"Ixia's security test solution is the perfect tool for verifying not only the effectiveness and accuracy of security solutions, but also measuring key network performance while under attack," Vic Alston, Senior Vice President of Product Development at Ixia, wrote in a Feb. 9 statement.

The tool can validate network security appliance performance by assessing whether attacks were effectively and accurately blocked, according to Ixia. The tool can also monitor network performance to ensure the appliances aren't slowing down mission-critical applications while under attack.

It can also send malicious traffic over encrypted and non-encrypted connections, Ixia said. The IxLoad-IPsec application can be used to encrypt all types of traffic for performance testing of VPN (virtual private network) gateways and other encryption devices. This ensures that security managers can test how their networks handle malware in both encrypted IPsec and SSL traffic as well as in normal traffic.

IxLoad test applications can authenticate sessions using EAP, PPP, and NAC, Ixia said. It also uses GTE-encapsulation to test 3G and LTE wireless core networks.

The testing tool has a comprehensive database of more than 6,000 unique attacks, Ixia said. IxLoad-Attack updates itself regularly to keep its database of threats up-to-date. Along with malicious traffic, it can also provide customized "good" traffic that can be used as a reference to test what security devices are doing, Ixia said.

There has been an explosion in the type and volume of attacks companies have to defend against, and the attacks have also become much more complex. Malware like Stuxnet are targeting devices IT managers hadn't thought about before, such as industrial controller systems, and the growing popularity of cloud services within the organization means there are multiple "boundaries" that need to be protected, Ixia said.

"Virtualized data centers, cloud computing, and network infrastructures, while providing an economic means of satisfying Internet and intranet requirements, vastly increase security enforcement complexity," said Alston.

With IxLoad-Attack, security managers can generate Internet-scale distributed denial-of-service attacks in the controlled environment to view how the network and applications would fare in a real DDOS attack, according to the company. The DDOS feature can simulated various types of attacks, including SYN,ICMP and ARP floods, Ixia said. While DDOS attacks have always been a concern to IT managers, they have dominated security news recently with high-profile attacks against corporations and government Web sites.

"Security concerns are at the forefront of IT managers' minds as they seek to balance security and access," said Jeff Wilson, Analyst at Infonetics. With security products continuously being updated with the latest threat information, security managers have to continually test existing network configurations, Wilson said.

The IxLoad-Attack tool will be demonstrated during the RSA Conference in San Francisco, Feb. 14 to Feb. 17.