High-bandwidth NTP amplification DDoS attacks escalate
Posted on 13 March 2014.
Prolexic issued a high alert threat advisory on NTP amplification DDoS attacks. This attack method has surged in popularity this year, fueled by the availability of new DDoS toolkits that make it simple to generate high-bandwidth, high-volume DDoS attacks against online targets.

“During the month of February, we saw the use of NTP amplification attacks surge 371 percent against our client base,” said Stuart Scholly, SVP/GM Security, Akamai Technologies. “In fact, the largest attacks we’ve seen on our network this year have all been NTP amplification attacks.”

While NTP amplification attacks have been a threat for many years, a number of new DDoS attack toolkits have made it easier for malicious actors to launch attacks with just a handful of servers. With the current batch of NTP amplification attack toolkits, malicious actors could launch 100 Gbps attacks – or larger – by leveraging just a few vulnerable NTP servers.

In just one month (February 2014 vs. January 2014):
  • The number of NTP amplification attacks increased 371.43 percent
  • Average peak DDoS attack bandwidth increased 217.97 percent
  • The average peak DDoS attack volume increased 807.48 percent.
Unlike the largest attacks of the past two years, the NTP amplification attacks were not focused on any particular sector. Industries targeted by NTP amplification attacks in February included finance, gaming, e-Commerce, Internet and telecom, media, education, SaaS providers and security.

In the Prolexic Security Engineering & Response Team lab environment, simulated NTP amplification attacks produced amplified responses of 300x or more for attack bandwidth and 50x for attack volume, making this an extremely dangerous attack method.


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