Optimizing Recurrent Pulsing Attacks using Application-Layer Amplification of Open DNS Resolvers


Jonas Bushart, CISPA, Saarland University


Shrew attacks or pulsing attacks are low-bandwidth network-level/layer-3 denial-of-service attacks. They target TCP connections by selectively inducing packet loss to affect latency and throughput. We combine the recently presented DNS CNAME-chaining attack with temporal lensing, a variant of pulsing attacks, to create a new, harder to block attack. For an attack, thousands of DNS resolvers have to be coordinated. We devise an optimization problem to find the perfect attack and solve it by using a genetic algorithm. The results show pulses created with our attack are 14 times higher than the attacker's average bandwidth. Finally, we present countermeasures applicable to pulsing and CNAME-chaining, which also apply to this attack.

Open Access Media

USENIX is committed to Open Access to the research presented at our events. Papers and proceedings are freely available to everyone once the event begins. Any video, audio, and/or slides that are posted after the event are also free and open to everyone. Support USENIX and our commitment to Open Access.