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14th USENIX Security Symposium — Abstract

Pp. 51–64 of the Proceedings

Empirical Study of Tolerating Denial-of-Service Attacks with a Proxy Network

Ju Wang, Xin Liu and Andrew A. Chien, Department of Computer Science and Engineering and Center for Networked Systems University of California, San Diego


Proxy networks have been proposed to protect applications from Denial-of-Service (DoS) attacks. However, since large-scale study in real networks is infeasible and most previous simulations have failed to capture detailed network behavior, the DoS resilience and performance implications of such use are not well understood in large networks. While post-mortems of actual large-scale attacks are useful, only limited dynamic behavior can be understood from these single instances. Our work provides the first detailed and broad study of this problem in large-scale realistic networks. The key is that we use an online network simulator to simulate a realistic large-scale network (comparable to several large ISPs). We use a generic proxy network, and deploy it in a large simulated network using typical real applications and DoS tools directly. We study detailed system dynamics under various attack scenarios and proxy network configurations. Specific results are as follows. First, rather than incurring a performance penalty, proxy networks can improve users experienced performance. Second, proxy networks can effectively mitigate the impact of both spread and concentrated large-scale DoS attacks in large networks. Third, proxy networks provide scalable DoS-resilience  resilience can be scaled up to meet the size of the attack, enabling application performance to be protected. Resilience increases almost linearly with the size of a proxy network; that is, the attack traffic that a given proxy network can resist, while preserving a particular level of application performance, grows almost linearly with proxy network size. These results provide empirical evidence that proxy networks can be used to tolerate DoS attacks and quantitative guidelines for designing a proxy network to meet a resilience goal.
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