Every industry is at risk as DDoS attacks continue to increase in size, sophistication and frequency. The most notable observation last quarter is the increase in DDoS attack activity, which was at its highest since the inception of Verisign’s DDoS Trends Report in Q1 2014. Comparing year-over-year attack activity, Verisign mitigated 85 percent more attacks in Q4 2015 than in Q4 2014. Some customers were hit with persistent, repeated attacks over the quarter.
On Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, 2015, some of the Internet’s Domain Name System (DNS) root name servers received large amounts of anomalous traffic. Last week the root server operators published a report on the incident. In the interest of further transparency, I’d like to take this opportunity to share Verisign’s perspective, including how we identify, handle and react, as necessary, to events such as this.
One of the longstanding goals of network security design is to be able to prove that a system – any system – is secure.
Designers would like to be able to show that a system, properly implemented and operated, meets its objectives for confidentiality, integrity, availability and other attributes against the variety of threats the system may encounter.
A half century into the computing revolution, this goal remains elusive.
One reason for the shortcoming is theoretical: Computer scientists have made limited progress in proving lower bounds for the difficulty of solving the specific mathematical problems underlying most of today’s cryptography. Although those problems are widely believed to be hard, there’s no assurance that they must be so – and indeed it turns out that some of them may be quite easy to solve given the availability of a full-scale quantum computer.
Another reason is a quite practical one: Even given building blocks that offer a high level of security, designers, as well as implementers, may well put them together in unexpected ways that ultimately undermine the very goals they were supposed to achieve.
The Domain Name System (DNS) offers ways to significantly strengthen the security of Internet applications via a new protocol called the DNS-based Authentication of Named Entities (DANE). One problem it helps to solve is how to easily find keys for end users and systems in a secure and scalable manner. It can also help to address well-known vulnerabilities in the public Certification Authority (CA) model. Applications today need to trust a large number of global CAs. There are no scoping or naming constraints for these CAs – each one can issue certificates for any server or client on the Internet, so the weakest CA can compromise the security of the whole system. As described later in this article, DANE can address this vulnerability.
With the biggest shopping season just around the corner, it is more important than ever that your website is available and consumers can find it. As companies add eye-catching images, social share buttons and attractive promotions to grab consumers’ attention, they may also inadvertently be slowing down their website.
For consumers who are increasingly impatient and expect a website to load within two seconds or less, the majority will quickly abandon a slow-loading page along with their shopping cart, resulting in lost revenue. With so many potential problems to slow down your site, the domain name system (DNS) doesn’t have to be one of them.
What is DNS?
DNS is the Internet’s equivalent to a phone book. It maintains a directory of domain names and translates them to their respective Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, enabling the end user to access a desired Web page. Any disruption to the DNS during the holiday season can be disastrous for retailers.
“DNS is the Achilles’ heel of the Web, often forgotten, and its impact on website performance is ignored until it breaks down,” explains Mehdi Daoudi, CEO of Web performance monitoring firm Catchpoint. However, it doesn’t have to be.
The most notable observation is DDoS attack activity increased in Q3 to the highest it has been in any quarter over the last two years. Quarter over quarter, Verisign mitigated 53 percent more attacks in the third quarter this year than in the preceding quarter.
We’ve all seen the check boxes. They’re hidden at the bottom of webpages. You can’t ignore them, but sometimes you forget they are there. They offer to send you deals and coupons. Some even offer to connect you with their partners for similar benefits. Do you check the box?
In these situations you are given a choice of how you want your personal information used. These sites provide the option to trade some of your personal information for a future benefit. If you decide to opt in, your personal information will be transferred, traded or sold to others, and in exchange you will receive something in return, i.e., 10 percent off your next purchase, advance notice of upcoming events, a free gift, etc. If you opt out, you will receive nothing. Regardless of the return, you were given a choice; opt in and receive a benefit for the use of your personal information, or opt out and be content that your personal information won’t be sold.
Security professionals agree that a strong security posture is one that is implemented in a layered approach. This layered approach is also referred to as “defense-in-depth.” A defense-in-depth strategy consists of applying security mechanisms across your organization to ensure sufficient coverage against the wide variety of cyber threats.
A comprehensive defense-in-depth strategy requires security mechanisms to be applied through the implementation of hardware, software and security policies. Hardware protection includes, but is not limited to, the implementation of next generation firewalls (NGFW), intrusion prevention systems/intrusion detection systems (IPS/IDS) and secure Web gateways (SWG). Software-based protection is done through anti-virus software deployments, automated patch management or tools for Internet monitoring. Finally, no defense-in-depth strategy would be complete without the implementation of strong security policies that prescribe processes for incident reporting, service and system audits, and security awareness training.
Cybersecurity is no longer a concern for just IT and security professionals. Recent breaches at organizations like Sony, Target, JP Morgan Chase, and numerous U.S. government entities have brought the issue of cyber-attacks very close to home. If you bank online, use your debit card at a local store or engage in any activity that relies on an Internet-connected system, you are at risk.
As part of National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), Verisign is joining with organizations and companies around the country to promote online safety and champion a safer, more secure and trusted Internet. Every week in October, we’ll share research and online safety tips from our resident cybersecurity experts via our blog and LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter posts.
At Verisign we take our Internet stewardship mission very seriously, so when details emerged over the past week concerning the XcodeGhost infection, researchers at Verisign iDefense wanted to help advance community research efforts related to the XcodeGhost issue, and leveraging our unique capabilities, offer a level of public service to help readers determine their current and historical level of exposure to the infection.
First identified in recent days on the Chinese microblog site Sina Weibo, XcodeGhost is an infection of Xcode, the framework developers use to create apps for Apple’s iOS and OS X operating systems. Most developers download secure Xcode from Apple. However, some acquire unofficial versions from sites with faster download speeds.
Apps created with XcodeGhost contain instructions, unknown to both the app developers and the end users, that collect potentially sensitive information from the user’s device and send it to command-and-control (C2) servers managed by the XcodeGhost operator. This way, the XcodeGhost operators circumvented the security of Apple’s official Xcode distribution, and the security of Apple’s App Store.
The infection had widespread impact. As of September 25th, Palo Alto Networks and Fox-IT had identified more than 87 infected apps by name, and FireEye claimed to have identified more than 4,000 infected apps. This activity impacts millions of users both in China and elsewhere in the world. To understand key aspects of the infection, iDefense researchers leveraged authoritative DNS traffic patterns to the C2 domains.