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Nexusguard: 1,000% increase in DNS amplification attacks since last year

DNS amplification attacks swelled in the second quarter of this year, with the amplified attacks spiking more than 1,000% compared with Q2 2018, according to Nexusguard’s “Q2 2019 Threat Report.”

Nexusguard researchers attributed Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) with fueling the new wave of DNS amplification attacks, which accounted for more than 65% of the attacks last quarter according to the team’s evaluation of thousands of worldwide DDoS attacks. DNSSEC was designed to protect applications from using forged or manipulated DNS data, and its growing adoption suggests that DNS amplification risks won’t disappear for service providers or enterprise networks anytime soon.

Nexusguard is a cloud-based DDoS (distributed denial of service) security solution provider.

According to the quarterly report, PayPal.com and multiple government domains fell victim to rampant DNS abuses, likely due to many of these domains deploying DNSSEC to the top-level .gov domain, as required by the US government’s mandate from the Office of Management and Budget. When blocking DNS amplification attacks, it’s not realistic to drop all DNS associated traffic, since users rely on DNS services to access the internet, and the tactic could deny service to paying customers. Nexusguard researchers warn that service providers must ensure their attack mitigation technology is advanced enough to ensure server availability to legitimate end-users, to ensure their access doesn’t end up as collateral damage.

“Although the adoption of DNSSEC is gaining wider acceptance as the patch for fixing DNS cache poisoning, it is now causing a new set of problems for organizations and service providers,” said Juniman Kasman, chief technology officer for Nexusguard. “Due to the long responses they generate, attackers often abuse DNSSEC to launch amplification attacks that clog victim networks and hosts, which will remain a significant threat in the future.”

Nexusguard findings also confirm that “bit and piece” attacks continued to spread this quarter, adopted for attacks across Europe, North America, and Africa. Mobile devices also continued to contribute to DDoS attacks, which primarily originated from iOS mobile devices in addition to botnet-hijacked Windows machines. Nexusguard’s quarterly DDoS threat research gathers attack data from botnet scanning, honeypots, CSPs and traffic moving between attackers and their targets to help companies identify vulnerabilities and stay informed about global cybersecurity trends. Read the full “Q2 2019 Threat Report” for more details.

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