Category Archives: Security

The DDoS Attack That Shook The World

The DDoS Attack That Shook The World

DDoS Attack: Update 2

6 days after the DDoS attack that rocked the internet to its core, Dyn have released detailed analysis of the attack and further details have emerged. The attack has been confirmed to have been the largest of its kind in history, and the Mirai botnet has been cited as the official cause.

Dyn have estimated that there were roughly “100,000 malicious endpoints” involved in the attack, which reportedly registered a massive strength of 1.2Tbps. If these reports are found to be true, that would make this twice as strong as any other attack on record! The strongest DDoS attack prior to this also involved the Mirai botnet, in an attack on the information security blog Krebs on Security, which registered 665 Gbps.

ofer-gayerWorryingly, Ofer Gayer, a security researcher with Imperva (a DDoS mitigation provider), has suggested that the hackers could well have even more power at their disposal, “Maybe this was just a warning shot. Maybe [the hackers] knew it was enough and didn’t need their full arsenal”.

Some researchers have commented that up to 500,000 devices could have been infected through the Mirai botnet attack, so perhaps as even stronger attack is on the horizon.

Ironically, Dyn even suggested that legitimate users refreshing their browsers may have been contributing to the problem; causing the site to become even more overloaded with traffic. So next time the site is down, don’t just keep hitting refresh!

You can find the full analysis by Dyn themselves on the whole attack and aftermath here.

By Josh Hamilton

Cashless Society Part 3 – Digital Wallets and More…

Cashless Society Part 3 – Digital Wallets and More…

Digital Wallets and More…

To finish off our Cashless Society series I want to look at the Fintech giants that are leading the digital money revolution. Whilst services like Apple Pay and Google Wallet have become more widely available, they haven’t quite taken off yet. They seem to be offering the transition to the digital economy that we are told is all but inevitable, but they haven’t managed to take off in the way that say, contactless cards have.

Jordan McKee, an analyst at 451 research commented that, “Mobile wallets haven’t yet proven they are measurably better than incumbent payment mechanisms, which general work quite well”. Avivah Litan, an Analyst at Gartner, put the lack of uptake of digital wallets down to the ease of current systems,

“It’s incredibly easy to swipe or dip a credit or debit card at a payment terminal and U.S. consumers are used to this mature payment application where they know they are well protected from financial loss…..It will take a lot of persuasion and financial incentives to get consumers to change their payment habits.”

Apple Pay

Apple Pay is built around contactless payment technology. It pulls your credit cards, debit cards, and other sensitive-payment data from the Wallet app, enabling you to use an iPhone or Apple Watch like a contactless card at store checkouts.


Apple Pay is growing fast as well, with some experts commenting that it could well be Apple’s saviour. Users of Apple Pay completed more transactions in September 2016 than they did in the entire year of 2015. And on top of that transaction volume was up 500% in the fourth quarter, compared to the same quarter in 2015. Someone in Kensington, England, even used the service to pay for a 1964 Aston Martin DB5 worth over $1 million.

This growth can be partially attributed to the expansion in service from just the US and the UK, to now include Switzerland, Canada, Australia, China, France, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and Russia, with Spain soon to follow. Apple has also expanded the payment service to the web, to enable it to be used on mobile phones and desktop computers through Safari, and to be used in apps like Uber or Starbucks. According to CEO Tim Cook, hundreds of thousands of websites are now Apple Pay ready.

Google Wallet/Android Pay

Android Pay has been developed by Google to power NFC (Near Field Communication) payments with phones, tablets, and watches, as a rival to Apple Pay. At the minute, they are only in the US, UK, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia – lagging behind Apple on the availability of the service – though they are rumoured to be starting up in Canada in the near future! They have also have benefitted from the expansion of MasterPass to cover Google Wallet transactions online, expanding their coverage and viability as an alternative to Apple Pay.

Android pay is available to use, in the countries it operates, nearly everywhere that Apple Pay is (though you might not see branding in quite the same way) and has a major bonus in that you can collect rewards for purchases, unlike Apple Pay.

These digital wallets operate under varied circumstances, but the premise and underlying goals remain similar. Yet, despite their adoption by major providers, there are still alternatives that are being implemented by retailers and businesses.

Retailers Alternatives


Aside from all the fanfare of mega-investments from Apple, Samsung and Google in NFC on smartphones, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and Walmart Pay allow customers to pay using a QR code displayed on a smartphone, which is a much most cost effective alternative. Starbucks customers spent an estimated $3 billion using the Starbucks app, though the success of apps of this nature can be partially attributed to the customer loyalty that the apps build with vouchers and offers for users.

Nitesh Patel, an analyst at Strategy Analytics, suggested that this could be the main reason for their success over digital wallets, “so far, mobile wallets, particularly NFC, have yet to integrate payments with loyalty in a compelling way…. You need a single tap to redeem or accumulate points and coupons”. Ultimately, the frills of the service are what is going to sell it to the general public, and digital wallets just don’t have those frills yet (especially Apple Pay, though it makes up for it somewhat in its widespread adoption).

Ultimately, we are still very early on in the transition to a cashless society. The technology is all but there, but the infrastructure and cultural acceptance hasn’t quite got there. It isn’t clear quite yet as to whether the digital wallet market will remain as open or competitive, or whether it will become an Android vs Apple battle. We shall simply have to wait and see who establishes themselves as the frontrunner.

By Josh Hamilton

Cyber Security Tips For Digital Collaboration

Cyber Security Tips For Digital Collaboration

Cyber Security Tips

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month – a joint effort by the Department of Homeland Security and private industry to ensure that citizens and businesses alike have the resources they need to use the Internet safely and securely. Today’s cyber criminals are ingenious and constantly probing for vulnerabilities, and when breaches occur they can put the whole company at risk. Don’t give them the opportunity! of the biggest security challenges companies face is that the way we work together has changed dramatically – a transformation that is still ongoing. The term “workplace” is becoming an anachronism as people find new ways to collaborate digitally, anywhere, at any time. Sensitive information needs to be shared among dispersed teams that may include co-workers, partners, customers and other stakeholders. Some of these individuals are vetted and trusted, others…not so much.

Since most security breaches start with human error, now is a fitting time to share some reminders for employees and business users. Think of these as your first line of defense when collaborating in an unsafe world.

Don’t Intermingle Work and Personal Files

Always keep business and personal files separate, otherwise you’re asking for trouble. (A certain presidential candidate learned this the hard way!) For cloud apps, use separate accounts. If work and personal files must be on the same device, store them as far apart as possible, using different directory paths.

Use Strong Passwords and Keep Them Safe

According to Verizon’s 2016 Data Breach Investigations Report, 63% of confirmed data breaches involved leveraging weak, default or stolen passwords. Employees, contractors and everyone else in your business ecosystem should be required to use unique credentials with strong, unique passwords, rather than the name of their pet goldfish over and over. Even if a password is exposed just once, the potential consequences are enough to make a security manager cringe. Remind people that the infamous Target breach began when some hacker stole a heating contractor’s credentials, while at Home Depot, someone used a vendor’s username and password to steal credit card info for more than 50 million people.

Verify Email Addresses Are Correct

According to a Ponemon Institute survey of over 1000 IT professionals, 63% of respondents have accidentally sent files to the wrong recipients – people who clearly were not authorized to see them. Here’s a simple suggestion: if an employee needs to send an email to someone for the first time, have the intended recipient send an initial email so the employee can respond to it and use it thereafter. This eliminates the chance they’ll get the address wrong – misspell a company name, forget a dash (or add one), use “.com” instead of “.org“, etc., and send a file goodness knows where.

Don’t Send Sensitive Files using a Consumer-Grade Service


When employees need to share a file that’s too large for email, it’s tempting to send it through Dropbox, Box or some other consumer-grade file sharing service – or simply park it there for convenience. While many of these consumer-grade services have improved their security measures in recent years, they lack the file-level security and controls necessary for protecting sensitive data. For example, a file may be intended for information only, but people are saving it, renaming it, forwarding it others, pasting sections into a competitor’s sales campaign or misusing it in other ways that the sender never intended.

Have Remote Erase Capabilities, or an Effective Alternative

People are always losing their devices – at the airport, in the back of a taxi, at a restaurant, etc. If a device is used to store sensitive data, it also needs a remote wipe feature to be able to erase that data in the event the device is lost or stolen. (NASA learned this lesson the hard way.) Another approach that’s much more flexible is to use information rights management (IRM) software that can delete sensitive files instantly, on any device.

Don’t Share Your Devices with Family and Friends

With the holidays approaching, many people will be receiving new devices (laptops, phones, etc.) as gifts, and family and friends will be pleading for a chance to use them. According to a survey by Kaspersky Lab, one third of respondents reported sharing their personal devices, and of those, 32% took no precautions to protect their information. Why tempt people? In addition, some family members probably have minimal awareness or understanding of today’s cyber threats, and how cunning the perpetrators can be.

Stay Safe Online – and Collaborate with Confidence

Since most security breaches start with human error, educating your staff is an obvious way to reduce the risk. But we also have to remember that training only goes so far – whenever human beings are involved, there’s always the chance of risky behaviors and silly mistakes. And if someone takes advantage of a security lapse to sneak onto your network and steal sensitive data, the damage may not be apparent for weeks or months.

Thus a company has to back up its first line of defense with other measures to keep its information safe. Consider a solution that embeds encryption and user privileges directly into a file, including who is authorized to access it and what operations they can perform with it. These permissions then follow the file wherever it goes on, on any device it lands on. If sensitive data falls into the wrong hands, access can be immediately revoked. Companies get control over their files that’s not available with email or traditional file sharing. As business becomes increasingly powered by digital collaboration, it’s the way to keep sensitive information secure while using it to full advantage.

By Daren Glenister

The Managed DNS Industry

The Managed DNS Industry

DNS Industry 

The SaaS industry has been going through a major shift in just the last few years, which is redefining how platforms are designed. System and network administrators are demanding all-in-one platforms for a variety of management tasks. The managed DNS industry, for one, has been radically altered by this shift. Both new and existing DNS providers are rolling out integrated platforms, which combine the analytical power of monitoring with advanced query management.

The Internet has been abuzz as the skeptical sys admins question how these integrated platforms can fix issues their predecessors couldn’t. And can you replace your current toolset with an all-in-one platform?

The principal idea behind these platforms is synergy, a mutually dependent relationship between monitoring and management. This technology is made possible by the cloud, which allows information to be shared between the two services in real time. The cloud foundations for all-in-one platforms have also proven to make these subscription services noticeably cheaper.

So what is this synergistic secret sauce that makes these all-in-one services so revolutionary? In the case of DNS management, network monitoring is integral to efficient query routing. What’s the point of making changes to your network configurations if you can’t monitor and analyze the results? This can also be applied the other way around: what’s the point in monitoring your network if you can’t fix the problems that you identify?


Traffic management should never feel like a shot in the dark, rather it should be informed and calculated to provide the best result for each individual end-user. The new integrated platform push is forcing admins to rethink how they manage their organizations’ traffic.

The problem is, too many admins think these tools are only used for anticipating DDoS or resolving attacks and outages. To be frank, outages are rare, but they can be devastating. DNS management has shifted from outage resolution to performance optimization. Next-generation managed DNS solutions will take a look at your entire network and implement changes to improve the experience for all of your end-users—individually optimized for each user’s location, browser, IP connectivity, and more.

Admins aren’t wrong for wanting to use query management for security reasons. That’s because DNS traffic operates at a critical ingress point for managing incoming traffic; as in, you can filter and root out malicious traffic before it even reaches your site. But what most admins seem to forget is these same management tools can be used to eliminate latency and improve network performance.

End-users are demanding faster load times, especially from mobile sites. DNS resolution times are only one portion of load time, but 50% of page load time is taken up by network latency overhead. Admins have to leverage every layer of the stack for optimal performance, or get left behind.

All-in-one management solutions are proving to be invaluable during high traffic periods. You can analyze traffic loads and redirect segments of traffic so that it’s balanced across many different resources or locations. You can also use this technology to minimize resolution times, by ensuring queries are being answered at the nearest possible server, or most optimally performing server (in case the closest one is under strain or underperforming).

These platforms are also incorporating Artificial Intelligence (AI) to analyze areas causing performance degradation and then make changes to alleviate them before they can cause appreciable affects to end-users. Some AI’s are paired with automated services that are able to recognize performance trends and patterns. They then use the analytics to anticipate and even predict potential attacks or fluctuations.

These all-in-one suites have created a new breed of traffic management, called Internet Traffic Optimization Services (ITOS). This new industry seeks to redefine the way admins manage their networks, by harnessing the power of analytics to make informed proactive changes. DNS is a user’s first and most impactful step when accessing a website, which is why ITOS places a strong emphasis on informed DNS management.

In the end, it all comes down to the cold hard stats. In order to get the most ROI out of a service, you need to look for reliability, cost efficiency, and proven performance improvements. All-in-one and ITOS solutions may still be in their formative years, but these solutions provide admins with all the tools they need in one platform. Now admins can see the performance improvement of their configurations in real time, while still costing less than non-integrated services.

By Steven Job

Great Cloud Platforms Need to Win the Hearts and Minds of Developers First

Great Cloud Platforms Need to Win the Hearts and Minds of Developers First

Great Cloud Platforms 

Adoption of cloud computing services is growing exponentially all around the world. Companies are realizing that so much of the hard, expensive work that they used to have to do internally can now be outsourced to cloud providers, allowing the companies to focus on what it is that they do best. That’s the reason why tech research firm Gartner projects that over the next five years, the shift to the cloud is looking to be a US$1-trillion market.

Everything from running payrolls, to marketing, logistics, data analysis and much, much more is moving to the cloud, and one of the most successful uses of the cloud is the concept of Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS, as it is known). What this does is enable customers to develop, run and manage their own applications without having to invest heavily in the infrastructure required in order to develop and launch a web application.

The key to creating a good product on the right platform is to win the hearts and minds of web developers so that they choose the right platform to go with. SAP, the world’s largest enterprise cloud company with over 320,000 customers and over 110 million cloud users in 190 countries is using its extensive experience and knowledge in the business space to offer the SAP HANA Cloud Platform, a remarkable service for all company sizes. This platform is already being used extensively by developers who are creating apps for their customers or their various organizations and employees.


The SAP HANA Cloud Platform enables developers to build business applications in the cloud quickly and easily.

Three features of this platform stand out:

  1. its ability to extend your cloud and on-premise applications to develop customized hybrid solutions,
  2. the awesome feature allowing you to integrate applications seamlessly and securely to synchronize data and processes across cloud, on-premise and third-party applications, as well as
  3. the core feature which allows you to build new enterprise-ready applications rapidly with an open standards platform that brings out the best in developers.

The Director of Group Software at the Danone Group, Ralf Steinbach, says that “with SAP HANA Cloud Platforms, we can quickly develop beautiful, user-friendly applications that are opening new opportunities to connect our customers directly to our back-end systems.”

Cloud services are a rapidly expanding market, and research indicates there are over 150 PaaS offerings to choose from. Too often companies simply choose the PaaS of a cloud-service provider that they’re already working with, without exploring the offerings in-depth and with a long-term focus.

According to John Rymer of Forrester Research, there are three types of developers who make use of PaaS offerings to build apps:

  1. Coders, who want the ability to do it all themselves,
  2. DevOps developers who want the ability to do some coding if they need to but can also plug into some level of abstraction, and
  3. RapidDevs who don’t want to code at all but just to configure a task to the capabilities of the platform.

For each of these types of developers, the SAP HANA Cloud Platform can deliver, due to its flexibility, requiring fewer skills and still at a lower cost. That flexibility extends to the choices that customers are offered between selecting to use a private, managed cloud, a public pay-as-you-go model or even public cloud infrastructure-as-a-service or platform-as-a-service.

In order for a platform to survive and thrive, it requires developers to regard it as the best choice for what they have to do on a daily basis: easily and quickly deploy applications that leverage a proven in-memory platform for next generation applications and analytics supported by a world-class technical team at every step of the way.

A great way to get started with SAP HANA Cloud Platform is with the user-based packages. Priced per users, they offer the flexibility to choose the package that best fits your needs. You can get started for as little as $25 / user / month, and scale as you go, adding more users or upgrading to add more resources when you need them.

For a limited time, you can get 30% off SAP HANA Cloud Platform user-based packages on the SAP Store by using the promo code HCP30.

Sponsored spotlight series by SAP

By Jeremy Daniel

Making Enterprise IT Affordable for Small Businesses with the Cloud

Making Enterprise IT Affordable for Small Businesses with the Cloud

Making Enterprise IT Affordable

Recent advancements in cloud technology have made enterprise IT services, like DNS management, a reality for even small businesses.

Customers have started to expect the same levels of online performance from small businesses as they do from enterprises. Everything from application to network performance, even DNS resolution times are all being held to the same standard as tech giants, like Google. If you can’t meet these standards, then the Twittersphere will explode, your brand could be damaged, and you could be losing revenue… all because you can’t be Google.


Everyone wants to point the finger at the millennials. The demand generation who expects every business, no matter the size or scale, to have a responsive website, mobile app, social media presence, and everything must load within two seconds or less, or else you’ll have to deal with a scathing Yelp review.

But you’d be wrong to assume it’s their fault. Nearly every generation has become accustomed these demands, to the point where they have become standards for all online businesses. While some demands may seem outlandish, we are only going to focus on the critical ones that apply to all industries and businesses.

If you are a modern business, then you need to make sure your content is readily accessible and loads quickly regardless of a customer’s location or device.

How are small businesses supposed to maintain stride with these performance metrics? Most companies don’t have the resources, connections, or know-how to engineer the same performance as enterprise organizations. Let alone the time to stay on top of Internet trends, vulnerabilities, and regulations.

The Answer is ITOS

The ITOS (Internet Traffic Optimization Services) industry strives to bridge the gap by using cloud technology to help companies of all sizes achieve the same performance goals as enterprises. ITOS uses cloud-hosted management platforms to give small businesses the same global infrastructure as a tech giant, without the tech giant price tag.

Recent studies have shown that migrating to the cloud can and will save your organization money, no matter how large or small your network needs are.

These networks use Anycast technology, which is hosted in the cloud, self-healing, and highly redundant. Anycast networks are able to authoritatively represent a domain’s name servers at multiple points of presence. That means your domain’s DNS information is hosted at dozens of locations around the world, on multiple name servers at any given time. This dramatically reduces the time it takes for clients to resolve your domain because your DNS information is hosted locally. It’s simple physics, the closer you are to your end-users, the faster your site will load.

Now mom and pop’s can take advantage of multi-million dollar networks with infrastructure at dozens of different critical peering hubs around the world.

But speed is only one of many benefits that small businesses gain when implementing an ITOS solution. DNS management has dramatically evolved through the migration to cloud-hosted networks, but more importantly through the availability of big data. The cloud has made big data faster, affordable, and is able to be updated in real-time. Now, you can use big data analytics to influence routing decisions in real time. You can gather critical insights about your end-users’ routing patterns and behaviors and make intelligent routing decisions customized on a per user basis.

If you want to learn more about how to implement an ITOS solution to improve your businesses’ online performance, you can download this eBook for free here.

By Steven Job

Data Sharing: A Matter of Transparency and Control

Data Sharing: A Matter of Transparency and Control

Janrain’s Consumer Identity Survey Shows 93% are Concerned How Brands Use/Share Their Online Activity

It comes as no surprise that people suffer from anxiety when sharing their personal information, even with big brands and names in the social media and eCommerce field. What does come as a surprise is the sheer number of netizens who share these feelings.

A recent research report put out by Marketwired found out that more than 93 percent of online users are concerned about how their info is used online. (Below is a colorful infographic created by the group at Janrain.)

So what are some of the reasons behind this hesitation?


Update: Timeline of the Massive DDoS DYN Attacks

Update: Timeline of the Massive DDoS DYN Attacks

DYN DDOS Timeline

This morning at 7am ET a DDoS attack was launched at Dyn (the site is still down at the minute), an Internet infrastructure company whose headquarters are in New Hampshire. So far the attack has come in 2 waves, the first at 11.10 UTC and the second at around 16.00 UTC. So far details have been vague, though there are a number of theories starting to surface in the aftermath of the attack. The attack took down numerous websites including Twitter, Amazon, Spotify and Reddit for a period – you can find the full list of affected sites here. PSN and Xbox live apps have also been affected!


The timeline of events according to the DYN updates is as follows:

11:10 UTC- We began monitoring and mitigating a DDoS attack against our Dyn Managed DNS infrastructure. Some customers may experience increased DNS query latency and delayed zone propagation during this time.

12:45 UTC – This attack is mainly impacting US East and is impacting Managed DNS customers in this region. Our Engineers are continuing to work on mitigating this issue.

13:36 UTC – Services have been restored to normal as of 13:20 UTC.

16:06 UTC – As of 15:52 UTC, we have begun monitoring and mitigating a DDoS attack against our Dyn Managed DNS infrastructure. Our Engineers are continuing to work on mitigating this issue.

16:48 UTC – This DDoS attack may also be impacting Dyn Managed DNS advanced services with possible delays in monitoring. Our Engineers are continuing to work on mitigating this issue.

17:53 UTC – Our engineers continue to investigate and mitigate several attacks aimed against the Dyn Managed DNS infrastructure.

18:23 UTC – Dyn Managed DNS advanced service monitoring is currently experiencing issues. Customers may notice incorrect probe alerts on their advanced DNS services. Our engineers continue to monitor and investigate the issue.

18:52 UTC – At this time, the advanced service monitoring issue has been resolved. Our engineers are still investigating and mitigating the attacks on our infrastructure.

20:37 UTC – Our engineers continue to investigate and mitigate several attacks aimed against the Dyn Managed DNS infrastructure.

Cloud Disaster Recovery

The attack has come only a few hours after Doug Madory, DYN researcher, presented a talk (you can watch it here) on DDoS attacks in Dallas at a meeting of the North American Network Operators Group (NANOG). Krebs on Security has also drawn links between reports of extortion threats posted on this thread, with the threats clearly referencing DDoS attacks – “If you will not pay in time, DDoS attack will start, your web-services will go down permanently. After that, price to stop will be increased to 5 BTC with further increment of 5 BTC for every day of attack.”

They do however, distance themselves from making any actual claims of extortion, “Let me be clear: I have no data to indicate that the attack on Dyn is related to extortion, to Mirai or to any of the companies or individuals Madory referenced in his talk this week in Dallas

However, this isn’t the only theory circulating at the moment. Dillon Townsel from IBM security has tweeted: has reported that hacking group PoodleCorp are being blamed for the attack by because of the cryptic tweet that they posted 2 days ago, “October 21st #PoodleCorp will be putting @Battlefield in the oven

PoodleCorp famously took down the Pokemon Go servers in July. Homeland Security and the FBI are investigating the attack and are yet to deem who was responsible.

Today’s attack is very different to the DDoS style that Anonymous rose to fame with. Instead of attacking and taking out an individual website for short periods of time, hackers took down a massive piece of the internet backbone for an entire morning, not once but twice with new reports of a potential 3rd wave. At the moment there have been no claims of ownership for the attack nor has there been any concrete evidence of who perpetrated the attack.

Dyn are well known for publishing detailed reports on attacks of this nature so we can only hope they will do the same for their own servers.

Until then you can follow any updates that Dyn are releasing here.

DDoS Attack – Update 10/24/2016

As of 22.17 UTC on October 21st Dyn declared the massive IoT attack, which had crippled large parts of the internet, to be over. However, details surrounding the attack are still emerging.

In the midst of the chaos, WikiLeaks tweeted this,  “Mr. Assange is still alive and WikiLeaks is still publishing. We ask supporters to stop taking down the US internet. You proved your point.


– suggesting that they knew who the perpetrators were. Perhaps even that they requested that attack, although this is pure speculation at this point.

A senior U.S. intelligence official spoke to NBC News, he commented that the current assessment is that this is a case of “internet vandalism”. At this point, they do not believe that it was any kind of state-sponsored or directed attack.

Hangzhou Xiongmai Technology, who specialise in DVRs and internet-connected cameras, said on Sunday that its products security vulnerabilities inadvertently played a role in the cyberattack, citing weak default passwords in its products as the cause.

Security researchers have discovered that malware known as Mirai was used to take advantage of these weaknesses by infecting the devices and using them to launch huge distributed denial-of service attacks. Mirai works by infecting and taking over IoT devices to create a massive connected network, which then overloads sites with requests and takes the website offline.

At this point we do not know when the identity of the hackers will become clear. Watch this page for more updates as they become available.

By Josh Hamilton

CloudTweaks Comics
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