Security Firm Reveals Weaknesses in DDoS Attack Toolkits

Prolexic Technologies is looking to arm security pros with information to fight back against hackers who are using a set of Distributed Denial of Service attack tools.

A security vendor has disclosed vulnerabilities in a family of toolkits used for distributed denial-of-service attacks to help those looking for ways to "neutralize" attacks.

Prolexic Technologies, which has a long history in battling DDoS attacks, revealed weaknesses in the command and control (C&C) architecture for the Dirt Jumper toolkit family. According to the company, the idea is to allow security pros to gain access to the command and control database backend and potentially access server-side configuration files.

"DDoS attackers take pride in finding and exploiting weaknesses in the architecture and code of their targets," said Scott Hammack, chief executive officer at Prolexic, in a statement.

"With this information, it is possible to access the C&C server and stop the attack," Hammack added.

The company's research includes Dirt Jumper v.3, Pandora and Di BoT. According to Prolexic, the Dirt Jumper family of DDoS botnet kits was originally authored by an individual who uses the handle 'sokol.' Various versions of Dirt Jumper were sold privately and leaked to the public.

"Construction of a new variant of Dirt Jumper is relatively easy, only requiring basic knowledge of Delphi, a basic understanding of PHP and MySQL, and U.S. $5,000 to purchase the Dirt Jumper builder source code," the company said in its paper.

"The availability of the Dirt Jumper builder source code indicates that several authors are creating spin-off variants, yet continue to use the basic functions of the PHP/MySQL C&C web panel without major modifications beyond the graphical theme," the firm added in its analysis.

According to the company, the malware's authors overlooked security for critical portions of the toolkits, with the weakest link being the insecure coding practices used in the creation of the C&C panels.

"They are simple PHP/MySQL scripts that are pieced together to manage the infected bots," the researchers stated in the report. "In their review of the code for vulnerable functions, analysts were able to identify Web application vulnerabilities within the C&C panels in the form of weak authentication mechanisms, file inclusion vulnerabilities, directory traversal vulnerabilities and SQL injections. These vulnerabilities can lead to compromise of the C&C Web application, which may lead to a complete compromise of the C&C host server."

In addition to the Dirt Jumper report, Prolexic's Security Engineering & Response Team (PLXsert) issued a threat advisory on the Pandora toolkit. According to the firm, Pandora is the newest member of the Dirt Jumper family and was used in July to attack the Website of security blogger Brian Krebs.

Recently, some in the security community have urged organizations to consider taking a more aggressive approach to dealing with attacks, including exploiting hacking tools such as the ones Prolexic mentions in the report. However, others have cautioned that there could be dangers in playing offense, arguing companies should leave such actions to law enforcement and instead focus only on gathering and leveraging information about attackers.

"Part of our mission is to clean up the Internet," Hammack said. "It is our duty to share this vulnerability with the security community at large."