The attack model based on botnet-generated Distributed Denials of Service is opportunistic. The botmaster selects a target, gathers as many resources as possible among his army of zombie machines, and when he realizes to have achieved enough firepower, simply selects a target and pushes the attack button. After this the target is inevitably flooded by packets generated by the bots, while the unaware owners of the zombie machines perform their normal work or fun activities with their infected computers.
In theory there is only a weak point in this opportunistic model and it consists on the fact that the botmaster controls the compromised machines but cannot control their availability. Simply said, if a user has not switched on his computer while the botmaster needs that machine to execute a DDoS attack, the machine is not available, and there is not so much to do.
Of course this is essentially a theoretical weak point since, quoting a famous phrase, we could say that on botnet empire the sun never sets: indeed botnets are so huge and widespread to be in practice always available (they span different continents and different time zones) and constantly grant enough firepower.
But what happens if some global events or some global festivities make a larger number of computers to be turned off? Quite simple apparently! The firepower of the botnet is hugely affected and the number of DDoS attack drops. This is one of the paradoxical conclusions that can be derived from a paper presented few days ago at the Virus Bulletin 2012 International Conference by Cloudflare (probably the main CDN company in the world), about which an interesting post by Naked Security has provided additional details.
Apparently the number of IP addresses used to execute Layer 7 DDoS attacks in 2012 showed the minimum values just in those days of events or vacations which kept the users away from their Personal Computers. The minimum values occurred in days such as Mardi Gras, Earth Day (the 22nd of April when one billion people around the world chose to keep their computers turned off to reduce energy consumption), the Memorial Day weekend on the 29th May and 28th June, just before US Independence Day celebrations.
Quoting the Naked Security article, the conclusion is quite amusing: if everyone turned off their computers each night, it might not just be good for the environment because of the lower levels of energy being consumed… it could also mean a reduction in botnet attacks.
Here it is the usual compilation for the Cyber Attacks in the first half of September, a period which has apparently confirmed the revamping of hacktivism seen in August.
Several operations such as #OpFreeAssange (in support of Julian Assange), #OpTPB2 against the arrest of The Pirate Bay Co-Founder Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, and #OpIndipendencia in Mexico have characterized the first half of September. Curiously the hacktivists have also characterized this period for a couple of controversial events: the alleged leak of 1 million of UDIDs from FBI (later proven to be fake) and the alleged attack to GoDaddy (later proven to be a network issue, that is the reason why I not even mentioned it in this timeline). Other actions motivated by hacktivists have been carried on by Pro-Syrian hackers.
From a Cyber Crime perspective, there are two events particularly interesting (even if well different): the alleged leak of Mitt Romney’s tax returns and yet another breach against a Bitcoin Exchange (Bitfloor), worthing the equivalent of 250,000 USD which forced the operator to suspend the operations.
If you want to have an idea of how fragile our data are inside the cyberspace, have a look at the timelines of the main Cyber Attacks in 2011 and 2012 and the related statistics (regularly updated), and follow @paulsparrows on Twitter for the latest updates.
Also, feel free to submit remarkable incidents that in your opinion deserve to be included in the timelines (and charts).
Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of irony. And this rule worths also for the Infosec Matrix…
Yesterday, while a five-hour outage, due to an alleged DDoS cyber attack initially claimed by the Anonymous, left GoDaddy unable to serve millions of websites (panicking millions of Internet Users), a digital publishing company named BlueToad came forward to take responsibility for the leak of a million iOS unique device identifiers (UDIDs). For sure you will remember that the same infamous collective claimed to have stolen the UDIDs from an FBI laptop few days ago.
Probably the FBI had really nothing to deal with the hack, since yesterday BlueToad admitted (and apologized) to have been breached and that the UDIDs were stolen just in that circumstance.
And as if that was not enough, hour after hour even the alleged cyber attack to GoDaddy has taken a paradoxical turn: after the initial claims, the Anonymous have denied the responsibility for the action (at first marked as the latest form of protest against GoDaddy’s support to SOPA), and have also mocked @AnonymousOwn3r, the alleged author of the attack, who self-proclaimed (sic) “security leader of Anonymous because I’m behind many things such like irc, ops, attacks, and many“.
Now the latest coup de théâtre: there’s no IRC bot behind GoDaddy’s outage (as claimed by the alleged author), but a much less romantic series of (unspecified) internal network events that corrupted data tables, apparently “simple” (for those famliar with networking) routing issues.
And they are two… In the same day, two alleged cyber attack initially claimed by the Anonymous, and then proven to be false. And even if it is not so common to discover two in the same day, fake cyber attacks are becoming quite frequent (think for instance to the alleged hack to Philips, old data leaked in February according to the Dutch Giant, and to Sony). Of course the point are not the Anonymous, the point is that claiming hacks and leaks (made by others, or worst totally false) is becoming too simple… Nowadays with Twitter and Pastebin you can (claim to) hack whatever you want (as an example I often find on pastebin dumps repeated several times and claimed by different authors).
Maybe it is time to take with caution and skepticism the news of massive leaks.