CDN Cannon: Exploiting CDN Back-to-Origin Strategies for Amplification Attacks


Ziyu Lin, Fuzhou University and Tsinghua University; Zhiwei Lin, Sichuan University and Tsinghua University; Ximeng Liu, Fuzhou University; Jianjun Chen and Run Guo, Tsinghua University; Cheng Chen and Shaodong Xiao, Fuzhou University


Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) provide high availability, speed up content delivery, and safeguard against DDoS attacks for their hosting websites. To achieve the aforementioned objectives, CDN designs several 'back-to-origin' strategies that proactively pre-pull resources and modify HTTP requests and responses. However, our research reveals that these 'back-to-origin' strategies prioritize performance over security, which can lead to excessive consumption of the website's bandwidth.

We have proposed a new class of amplification attacks called Back-to-Origin Amplification (BtOAmp) Attacks. These attacks allow malicious attackers to exploit the 'back-to-origin' strategies, triggering the CDN to greedily demand more-than-necessary resources from websites, which finally blows the websites. We evaluated the feasibility and real-world impacts of 'BtOAmp' attacks on fourteen popular CDNs. With real-world threat evaluation, our attack threatens all mainstream websites hosted on CDNs. We responsibly disclosed the details of our attack to the affected CDN vendors and proposed possible mitigation solutions.

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