Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Liz McMillan, Simon Hill, Elizabeth White, Vaibhaw Pandey, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: Linux Containers

Linux Containers: Article

SCO's "DDoS Attack" - Was It or Wasn't It?

Why didn't SCO's Linux block all "SYN flood" attacks, ask experts.

Both The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, two of the biggest news sites in Australia, have already begun asking questions about yesterday's outage at the SCO Web site, which SCO Group described in a statement as "a large scale distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack."

In a piece bylined Sam Varghese and dated today December 11, The Age reports:

SCO said it was working with its ISP to restore service and that the site was unavailable due to a SYN flood attack.

IT professionals have, however, cast doubt on SCO's claims as the operating system on which its website is hosted, Linux, has the ability to block all SYN attacks.

Additionally, it has been pointed out that Cisco, the router manufacturer, has patches in place for its hardware to prevent such attacks. If SCO is facing such an attack then it appears that elementary precautions have not been taken, the pros say.

Web stats provider Netcraft has a graph of the activity before and during the period when SCO says its site was being DDoSed.  

The incident affected SCO's Web site, e-mail, intranet and customer support operations and SCO said that the particular DDoS used is known as a syn attack and used "several thousand servers [that] were compromised by an unknown person to overload SCO's Web site with illegitimate Web site requests."

Steve McInerney, an Australian security expert consulted by Groklaw, however, raises questions.

McInerney, who worked for six years as the Technical Security member of the IT Security team for Australia's Department of Defense and more recently was one of the senior designers/firewall/security experts at a company that manages Australia's largest federal government-certified Internet gateway, is of the opinion that "SCO are NOT suffering a DDoS attack. Specifically not one that they have described. It looks to me like someone has accidentally kicked a cable out of it's socket or similar. Or a HDD failure or...."

"Speaking as a Sysadmin/Firewall guy," McInerney says, "my first priority in any attack is to solve the problem - not issue a press release."

Such debating points aside, here is McInerney's technical rationale, verbatim:

A 'SYN Flood' attack is an attack that attempts to stop a server from accepting new connections. It's quite an old attack now, and has been relegated to the 'That was interesting' basket of attacks. A very simple analogy of a SYN attack: You have two hands, you are thus able to shake hands with at most two people at any one time. A third person who wants to shake your hand has to wait. Either you or one of the first two people can stop shaking hands so as to be able to accept the third person's handshake.

In this instance SCO are claiming that 'thousands' are doing something similar to their web server. This is, in and of itself, plausible. Unfortunately if we look closer there are a few problems with this claim of SCO's.

As stated above, the attack is quite an old one. Patches to all Operating Systems that I'm aware of, do exist to stop this sort of attack. For instance, a CISCO document describes the attack and provides ways to stop it. Note the lines: 'Employ vendor software patches to detect and circumvent the problem (if available).' This means, quite simply, that patches exist to mitigate this attack. Why hasn't SCO applied them?

Further SCO States: "'The flood of traffic by these illegitimate requests caused the company's ISP's Internet bandwidth to be consumed so the Web site was inaccessible to any other legitimate Web user.'

Interesting. If their bandwidth is consumed, then any servers nearby will also be inaccessible. That is www.sco.com has the IP address of 216.250.128.12 and ftp.sco.com has the IP address of 216.250.128.13 so the two servers are side by side, probably even on the same physical network hub/switch. Note that there is no room for a broadcast, etc., address - these servers are on the same subnet - i.e., on the same network device (hub/switch).

Unfortunately for SCO, from Australia, ftp.sco.com is highly responsive. No bandwidth problems there that I can see - even though www.sco.com is still unavailable. The evidence then, is that their bandwidth is fine.

So what about just the SYN flood? Well, even with patches, to successfully conduct a SYN flood you would tend to chew up available bandwidth anyway, which we aren't seeing. So I have quite strong doubts about the accuracy of this information. I feel quite comfortable in stating that SCO are NOT suffering a DDoS attack. Specifically not one that they have described. It looks to me like someone has accidentally kicked a cable out of it's socket or similar. Or a HDD failure or....

Dealing with an DDoS atack when your bandwidth is NOT eaten up is fairly simple. A quick and dirty script to read your firewall log(s) for incoming addresses that are trying the SYN attacks is fairly easy. Adding those IP addresses to a quick block list is also easy.

After this, and other, opinions, the counter-allegation that SCO was perhaps "faking DOS attacks to make Linux community look bad" is now doing the rounds of the Internet. LinuxWorld will endeavor to keep you abreast of whatever consensus on the facts is eventually reached.

More Stories By Linux News Desk

SYS-CON's Linux News Desk gathers stories, analysis, and information from around the Linux world and synthesizes them into an easy to digest format for IT/IS managers and other business decision-makers.

Comments (6) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
rusty carruth 12/11/03 03:23:54 PM EST

Note that, before groklaw went unavailable, it appears that
SCO had a non-trivial set of changes to their web pages,
that appear to NOT be caused by a restore of older stuff.

Unfortunately I've lost the url for the site that keeps backups of web pages...

rc

Alexander C. Zorach 12/11/03 10:56:22 AM EST

As a consultant who has set up numerous networks, this is absurd. Nowadays, even the cheap hardware you use can buy at the local store has the necessary capacity to deal with a DDoS attack. If this really was a DDoS attack, I think the http://www.sco.com/ site would be up already. I can't imagine it taking more than an HOUR to fix things, maybe a little more if you have to download some patches or recompile into your kernel the support for blocking the attack.

The fact that it's taken so long either means that there was no DDos Attack, or that if there was, SCO was totally clueless at dealing with something that any small-time computer consultant such as me would have put an end to in a matter of minutes.

John Hinton 12/11/03 09:46:49 AM EST

Please see the commentary (and comments) on www.groklaw.net, which began checking out the "attack" from 11:19 AM EST on 10 December. An ace site with a wealth of shared expertise.

ByteEnable 12/11/03 09:18:59 AM EST

Good story coverage. By the way, I called SCO and asked specifically which Law Enforcement agenices have been contacted and are working the case. I have yet to recieve a response. The FBI should have a Special Agent in Charge assigned to the case.

Josh McCormick 12/11/03 08:52:22 AM EST

Take SCO's claim at their word. They're incompetent. An OS manufacturer and distributor, as well as a web solutions provider, completely helpless against an ancient form of attack against web sites. How can anyone sleep at night, running SCO products, saying, "this company stands behind me"?

The only other credible alternative is that their executives are lying. Can anyone sleep at night knowing that liars are standing behind them?

Either you've got a company that is incompetent in its core competency, or you've got executives who are liars. Either way, this isn't a positive event for SCO.

jar jar 12/11/03 07:51:02 AM EST

SCO wouldn't know a DDOS attack was happening even if it bit them on the arse. Not enough people would visit their web site for them to be alerted that they had a problem. They can't even show they have the technical prowess to "find" stolen code in freely available source code. I visisted their employment section of sco.com. I find it rather amusing that the current UNIX company had some jobs that required the potential employee to know how to use MS Office. No mention of Star Office, Abiword, or any other office productivity software that runs on any flavor of UNIX. I would show specific details, but I doubt Darl turned the web server back on...

@ThingsExpo Stories
It is of utmost importance for the future success of WebRTC to ensure that interoperability is operational between web browsers and any WebRTC-compliant client. To be guaranteed as operational and effective, interoperability must be tested extensively by establishing WebRTC data and media connections between different web browsers running on different devices and operating systems. In his session at WebRTC Summit at @ThingsExpo, Dr. Alex Gouaillard, CEO and Founder of CoSMo Software, presented ...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
"There's plenty of bandwidth out there but it's never in the right place. So what Cedexis does is uses data to work out the best pathways to get data from the origin to the person who wants to get it," explained Simon Jones, Evangelist and Head of Marketing at Cedexis, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
WebRTC is great technology to build your own communication tools. It will be even more exciting experience it with advanced devices, such as a 360 Camera, 360 microphone, and a depth sensor camera. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Masashi Ganeko, a manager at INFOCOM Corporation, introduced two experimental projects from his team and what they learned from them. "Shotoku Tamago" uses the robot audition software HARK to track speakers in 360 video of a remote party. "Virtual Teleport" uses a multip...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Evatronix will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Evatronix SA offers comprehensive solutions in the design and implementation of electronic systems, in CAD / CAM deployment, and also is a designer and manufacturer of advanced 3D scanners for professional applications.
Leading companies, from the Global Fortune 500 to the smallest companies, are adopting hybrid cloud as the path to business advantage. Hybrid cloud depends on cloud services and on-premises infrastructure working in unison. Successful implementations require new levels of data mobility, enabled by an automated and seamless flow across on-premises and cloud resources. In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Tevis, an IBM Storage Software Technical Strategist and Customer Solution Architec...
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
An increasing number of companies are creating products that combine data with analytical capabilities. Running interactive queries on Big Data requires complex architectures to store and query data effectively, typically involving data streams, an choosing efficient file format/database and multiple independent systems that are tied together through custom-engineered pipelines. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Tomer Levi, a senior software engineer at Intel’s Advanced Analytics gr...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things’). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing? IoT is not about the devices, it’s about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. In his session at Internet of Things at Cloud Expo | DXWor...
Everything run by electricity will eventually be connected to the Internet. Get ahead of the Internet of Things revolution. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Akvelon expert and IoT industry leader Sergey Grebnov provided an educational dive into the world of managing your home, workplace and all the devices they contain with the power of machine-based AI and intelligent Bot services for a completely streamlined experience.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Synametrics Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Synametrics Technologies is a privately held company based in Plainsboro, New Jersey that has been providing solutions for the developer community since 1997. Based on the success of its initial product offerings such as WinSQL, Xeams, SynaMan and Syncrify, Synametrics continues to create and hone inn...