Free Cloud Services and How They Are Used for DDoS


Free cloud services have become popular in recent years. These services provide developers a platform to test software, and collaborate with others easily. While this sounds amazing, in reality these platforms can be a goldmine for attackers if not properly secured. Many of these services require only an email for verification. Setting up fake emails and automating this sign up process is all too simple for attackers.

A couple years ago at Black Hat in Las Vegas, security researchers Oscar Salazar and Rob Ragan demonstrated just how easy this process was. They managed to accumulate 1,000 free cloud accounts during one weekend. With this free botnet they performed LiteCoin mining, allowing them to average $1,750 per week in pure profit.

This was a proof of concept exercise and as such restraint was shown. A malicious user on the other hand, would feel no need to limit themselves. Imagine tens of thousands of free cloud services being utilized for DDoS attacks. Being able to bypass email authentication is simple for any skilled coder, free cloud providers need to be aware of this, and take the necessary steps to improve authentication. These types of services are ideal for attackers to perform distributed network scanning, distributed password cracking, DDoS attacks, click-fraud, crypto currency mining and data storage.

Moving forward we need to keep security in mind as we offer free services and connect more devices to the internet. The threat landscape is constantly evolving, as a community we need to evolve as well. Take any and every step possible to remain secure and up to date.

Stop DDoS Attacks Against your Website!

This is the reality and the impacts Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks have on your websites and their associated server resources. A DoS/DDoS can happen within seconds / minutes and the impacts can be devastating. The impacts will range from less severe issues like down time, to getting banned by your host for Terms of Service (ToS) violations. This doesn’t account for the economic impacts to your business (i.e., downtime = no purchases, no availability).

Understanding a [Distributed] Denial of Service (DoS / DDoS) Attack

Denial of Service (DoS) attacks and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are the same thing, only thing differentiating the two is scale. When you hear someone mention a DoS attack, you can expect the attack to be marginal (Qualifier: obviously marginal is very subjective and many would disagree that any DoS is marginal). In most instances, when you hear someone say DDoS, you can think the opposite (i.e., think grand!).

Whether a DoS or DDoS attack, the attacker is making use of one or more computers. DoS attacks are on the lower end of that spectrum while DDoS attacks are on the higher end of it, very large DDoS attacks can span 100’s if not 1,000’s of systems. The proliferation of DoS/DDoS attacks are directly attributed to the proliferation of DDoS-For-Hire service market, also known as Booter Services.

An attacker that is leveraging a Denial of Service (DoS) attack method has one goal in mind, to disrupt your websites performance. They disrupt your website performance by making it slow to respond to legitimate requests or disabling the website entirely, making it impossible for legitimate users to access your website. This type of disruption, depending on your configuration, can be devastating to your business.

There are three main DDoS / DoS attack types:

Each of these attacks types are designed to consume your web server resources, in one way or another and each have the same outcome – your web server / website slow to a halt or crash.

1. Volume Based DoS Attacks

As the name implies, this type of attacks depends on volume. The attacker employs a basic tactic, more resources wins this game. If they can overload your resources, they win. For most everyday website owners, this is an easy win. Most website owners are leveraging everyday Shared hosts and those with VPS environments are often configured in the smallest tiers and configurations.

2. Protocol Based DoS Attacks

The internet is all based on protocols, it’s how things get from point A to point B. This type of attack can include things likes Ping of Death, SYN Flood, Packet modifications and number of other variations.


3. Application Layer Attacks

The basis for this attack is often targeting applications like Web Servers (i.e., Windows IIS, Apache, etc…), but more and more we’re seeing this type of attack evolve to application platforms like WordPress, Joomla and other similar applications.

Website Firewall Protects Against DDoS / DoS Attacks

There are a number of DoS / DDoS attacks that we, Sucuri, deal with on a daily basis. These are the ones that the Sucuri Website Firewall will protect your website against:

1. HTTP Flood Attack

This type of Layer 7 application attack happens when an attacker makes use of standard GET / POST requests in effort to overload your web servers response ability. This attack is also known as a volumetric attack, it doesn’t require malformed packets, spoofing or any variation of reflection techniques. This attack can occur over HTTP or HTTPS and is much easier to implement, making them the much preferred attack method, cheaper too, for a lot of booter services targeting websites. They can generate thousands of requests a second.

2. Simple Service Discovery Protocol (SSDP) DoS Attack

The Simple Service Discovery Protocol (SSDP) is often used for Plug & Play (UPnP) devices, and it was only in 2014 that we started to see DoS attacks leverage this protocol. It’s a relatively new attack vector for DoS attacks. It often targets traditional SSDP ports, (1900) and destination port 7 (echo). It’s a form of a UDP attack, which unlike SSDP is more common. The latest reports show that SSDP attacks have the ability to increase the amplification of the attack by 30 times which might explain why it’s being employed.

3. User Datagram Protocol (UDP) DoS Attack

The User Datagram Protocol (UDP) DoS attack will flood various ports on your web server, randomly, with packets – also known as Layer 3 / 4 attacks. This forces the web server to respond, in turn chewing through your web server resources forcing it to come to a halt or die completely. UDP is a connection-less protocol, meaning it doesn’t validate source IP addresses. It’s because of this that UDP attacks are often associated with Distributed Reflective Denial of Service (DRDoS) attacks.

4. Domain Name Server (DNS) Amplification DoS Attack

DNS Amplification DoS attacks are very popular today, they occur at Layers 3 / 4. They make use of publicly accessible DNS servers around the world to overwhelm your web server with DNS response traffic. Your web server is overwhelmed by the influx of responses in turn making it difficult to function as it’s resources are depleted, making it impossible to respond to legitimate DNS traffic.

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