Blog: Biggest DDoS attack on record hits GitHub

March 8th, 2018

GitHub the largest cloud based code repository was hit last week using a new way to amplify distributed denial-of-service DDoS attack. The DDoS attack generated a flood of internet traffic that peaked at 1.35 Terabits per second, making it the largest on record.

Fortunately, the software development site survived the disruption and was only down for few minutes, GitHub said on Thursday. Akamai, a DDoS protection provider, managed to fend off the assault.

The bad news? The GitHub attack may be an omen of things to come. The IT infrastructure that powered the assault is ripe for abuse.

The assault actually leveraged what’s known as a “memcache server,” which is usually hooked up to a data center.

As the name suggests, these servers are designed to cache data and speed up web applications and internet sites. However, that same technology can be used to amplify certain internet traffic by up to 51,000 times. This can be done when a memcache server spoofs the IP address of an actual website. The servers can then mistakenly send a flood of data to the victim website, overwhelming it with traffic and taking it offline. It doesn’t help that many of the memcached servers are running on the open internet, making them potential assets hackers can use in DDoS attack schemes.

Crowe Mackay cybersecurity team helps establish an effective cybersecurity governance, risk and compliance (GRC) structure, and delivers a range of specialized cybersecurity risk management services.

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