Feeds

CIA, PayPal under bizarre SSL assault

Plus hundreds of others

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

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. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
Chinese hackers spied on investigators of Flight MH370 - report
Classified data on flight's disappearance pinched
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Researchers camouflage haxxor traps with fake application traffic
Honeypots sweetened to resemble actual workloads, complete with 'secure' logins
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.