There are DDoS attacks, then there's this 809 million packet-per-second tsunami Akamai says it just caught

Bank on the receiving end of massive 418Gbps traffic barrage

Akamai reckons it blocked what may be the largest distributed denial-of-service attack ever, in terms of packets per second.

The content delivery network today said it successfully warded off the mammoth traffic flood, even as it was hit with a peak load of 809 million packets per second (PPS).

The attack, which began on 21 June, was directed at an unspecified European bank. The security team told The Register it is the largest such attack Akamai has ever encountered, let alone blocked, and the CDN believes that it is likely the largest DDoS attack to hit any network, in terms of packets per second.

"We believe this is a new industry record for PPS-focused attacks, and well over double the size of the previous high-water mark on the Akamai platform, just one week after Akamai announced another massive DDoS attack," Akamai said in its report on the digital tsunami. "Looking holistically at DDoS activity since the onset of 2020, it is clear that large, sophisticated DDoS attacks are still a significant attack vector."

Akamai could not say if there was any ulterior motivation behind the barrage (ie, to use the DDoS as a distraction) but the security team told El Reg that the bank in question has had to deal with fairly frequent attacks, so it might just be the latest (and largest) of a number of attempts to knock the institution offline.

Hand emerges from wave - help

DNS this week stands for Drowning Needed Services: Design flaw in name server system can be exploited to flood machines offline


What was unusual to the Akamai researchers was how the attack began and ended (or was mitigated) with extraordinary speed.

"The attack grew from normal traffic levels to 418Gbps in seconds, before reaching its peak size of 809Mpps in approximately two minutes," Akamai said. "In total, the attack lasted slightly less than 10 minutes."

For what it's worth, Amazon Web Services claimed in May it mitigated a 2.3Tbps flood against a target, though Akamai claims it stopped a larger attack, in terms of packets per second.

The assault was not only large in volume, but also in source. It is believed that the botnet wrangler behind the flood was in command of a massive number of infected PCs, many of them being used as part of a DDoS attack for the first time.

"It was highly unusual that 96.2 per cent of source IPs were observed for the first time (or at a minimum, were not being tracked as being part of attacks in recent history)," the Akamai team explained.

"We had observed a number of different attack vectors coming from the 3.8 per cent of remaining source IPs, both matching the single attack vector seen in this attack and aligned to others. In this case, most of the source IPs could be identified within large internet service providers via autonomous system (AS) lookups, which is indicative of compromised end-user machines."

Unfortunately, Akamai believes that these sort of high-volume DDoS operations are only going to continue, and possibly even grow further. The CDN noted that it had tracked another massive attack in the week prior to the June operation, and financial services (along with internet and telecoms) are among the most popular targets. ®

Broader topics

Other stories you might like

  • Robotics and 5G to spur growth of SoC industry – report
    Big OEMs hogging production and COVID causing supply issues

    The system-on-chip (SoC) side of the semiconductor industry is poised for growth between now and 2026, when it's predicted to be worth $6.85 billion, according to an analyst's report. 

    Chances are good that there's an SoC-powered device within arm's reach of you: the tiny integrated circuits contain everything needed for a basic computer, leading to their proliferation in mobile, IoT and smart devices. 

    The report predicting the growth comes from advisory biz Technavio, which looked at a long list of companies in the SoC market. Vendors it analyzed include Apple, Broadcom, Intel, Nvidia, TSMC, Toshiba, and more. The company predicts that much of the growth between now and 2026 will stem primarily from robotics and 5G. 

    Continue reading
  • Deepfake attacks can easily trick live facial recognition systems online
    Plus: Next PyTorch release will support Apple GPUs so devs can train neural networks on their own laptops

    In brief Miscreants can easily steal someone else's identity by tricking live facial recognition software using deepfakes, according to a new report.

    Sensity AI, a startup focused on tackling identity fraud, carried out a series of pretend attacks. Engineers scanned the image of someone from an ID card, and mapped their likeness onto another person's face. Sensity then tested whether they could breach live facial recognition systems by tricking them into believing the pretend attacker is a real user.

    So-called "liveness tests" try to authenticate identities in real-time, relying on images or video streams from cameras like face recognition used to unlock mobile phones, for example. Nine out of ten vendors failed Sensity's live deepfake attacks.

    Continue reading
  • Lonestar plans to put datacenters in the Moon's lava tubes
    How? Founder tells The Register 'Robots… lots of robots'

    Imagine a future where racks of computer servers hum quietly in darkness below the surface of the Moon.

    Here is where some of the most important data is stored, to be left untouched for as long as can be. The idea sounds like something from science-fiction, but one startup that recently emerged from stealth is trying to turn it into a reality. Lonestar Data Holdings has a unique mission unlike any other cloud provider: to build datacenters on the Moon backing up the world's data.

    "It's inconceivable to me that we are keeping our most precious assets, our knowledge and our data, on Earth, where we're setting off bombs and burning things," Christopher Stott, founder and CEO of Lonestar, told The Register. "We need to put our assets in place off our planet, where we can keep it safe."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022