Feeds

CIA, PayPal under bizarre SSL assault

Plus hundreds of others

High performance access to file storage

The Central Intelligence Agency, PayPal, and hundreds of other organizations are under an unexplained assault that's bombarding their websites with millions of compute-intensive requests.

The "massive" flood of requests is made over the websites' SSL, or secure-sockets layer, port, causing them to consume more resources than normal connections, according to researchers at Shadowserver Foundation, a volunteer security collective. The torrent started about a week ago and appears to be caused by recent changes made to a botnet known as Pushdo.

"What do I mean by massive? I mean you are likely seeing an unexpected increase in traffic by several million hits spread out across several hundred thousand IP addresses," Shadowserver' Steven Adair wrote. "This might be a big deal if you're used to only getting a few hundred or thousands of hits a day or you don't have unlimited bandwidth."

Shadowserver has identified 315 websites that are the recipients of the SSL assault. In addition to cia.gov and paypal.com, other sites include yahoo.com, americanexpress.com, and sans.org.

It's not clear why Pushdo has unleashed the torrent. Infected PCs appear to initiate the SSL connections, along with a bit of junk, disconnect and then repeat the cycle. They don't request any resources from the website or do anything else.

"We find it hard to believe this much activity would be used to make the bots blend in with normal traffic, but at the same time it doesn't quite look like a DDoS either," Adair wrote.

Security mavens aren't sure what targeted sites can do to thwart the attacks. Changing IP addresses may provide a temporary reprieve. Adair asks those with better mitigation techniques to contact him. The Shadowserver advisory is here. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Web data BLEEDOUT: Users to feel the pain as Heartbleed bug revealed
Vendors and ISPs have work to do updating firmware - if it's possible to fix this
OpenSSL Heartbleed: Bloody nose for open-source bleeding hearts
Bloke behind the cockup says not enough people are helping crucial crypto project
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
Heartbleed exploit, inoculation, both released
File under 'this is going to hurt you more than it hurts me'
Parent gabfest Mumsnet hit by SSL bug: My heart bleeds, grins hacker
Natter-board tells middle-class Britain to purée its passwords
Experian subsidiary faces MEGA-PROBE for 'selling consumer data to fraudster'
US attorneys general roll up sleeves, snap on gloves
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.