DDOS ATTACKS - Cause - Cure - Nature

DosDawg posted 8th of June 2010 in Community Voice. 7 comments.

DDOS happens due to lack of security awareness of the network/server owners. On a daily basis we hear that a particular machine is under DDOS attack or NOC has unplugged the machine due to DDOS attack . So DDOS has become one of the common issues in this electronics world. DDOS is like a disease which doesn't have an anti-viral developed. So we should be carefull while dealing with it . Never take it lightly. In this article i am trying to explain the steps/measures which will help us defend from DDOS attack ,up to a certain extend .

What is a DDOS attack?

Simply said, DDOS is an advanced version of DOS attack . Like DOS , DDOS also tries to deny the important services running on a server by broadcasting packets to the destination server in a way that the Destination server cannot handle it. The speciality of the DDOS is that, it relays attacks not from a single network/host like DOS. The DDOS attack will be launched from different dynamic networks which has already been compromised.

Normally, DDOS consists of 3 parts . One is the Master ,Other the slave and atlast the victim. The master is the attack launcher ie the person/machine behind all this,sound's COOL right . The slave is the network which is being compromised by the Master and Victim is the target site/server . Master informs the compromised machines, so called slaves to launch attack on the victim's site/machine. Hence its also called co-ordinated attack.

In my term, Master is said to be the Master Brain, Slave is said to be the launch pad for the attack and Victim is the target.

How do they Do it?

DDOS is done in 2 phases. In the first phase they try to compromise weak machines in different networks around the world. This phase is called Intrusion Phase. Its in the next phase that they install DDOS tools and starts attacking the victims machines/site. This Phase is called Distributed DoS attacks phase.

What Allowed them to do it?

The reasons are given below :-

1) Vulnerable softwares/Applications running on a machine or network.

2) Open network setup.

3) Network/ machine setup without taking security into account.

4) No monitoring or DataAnalysis are being conducted.

5) No regular Audit / Software upgrades being conducted.

What should we do if we are under attack?

First Identify if you are really under attack. If yes, follow the below steps :

Check if your machines load is high and you have large number of HTTP process running.

To find the load just use the command w or uptime -



Blessen@work >w 12:00:36 up 1 day, 20:27, 5 users, load average: 0.70, 0.70, 0.57



To find if there is large number of HTTP process running use the command " ps -aux|grep HTTP|wc -l "



[root@blessen root]# ps -aux|grep HTTP|wc -l



In a heavy server , the number of connection will go above 100. But during DDOS attack, the number will go even higher and thats when we need to find out from which all networks are these attacks coming. In DDOS the host machine doesn't have much importance. Its the network which is of importance here because, an attacker will use any machine on the compromised network or even will use all the machines in the network. Hence network address is of importance while fighting with the attack.

If you have high load (say 5 or more ) and you have large number of HTTP process then i would request you to do the following

1) At command prompt execute the below command

bash#netstat -lpn|grep :80 |awk '{print $5}'|sort

2) Check each block of ips. Like let me say , that you have more than 30 connection from a single ip. Under normal cases there is no need for that many number of connection requests from a single IP. Try to identify such ips/networks from the list you get

3) If more than 5 host/ip connects from the same network then its a clear sign of DDOS .

4) Block that ips/networks using iptables /Apf

iptables -A INPUT -s <Source IP> -j DROP

If you have apf then just add the ips which you want to block in the file /etc/apf/deny_hosts.rules

5) Keep on continuing this process untill the attack on the machine gets reduced.

There is no complete or perfect solution to DDOS . The logic is simple, NO softwares or measures could handle attacks from multiple servers say from 50 - 100 servers all at a time .

All that can be done is to take preventive measures .

How can we prevent or defend ourselves from these attacks?

Like said, Prevention is better than cure. Its very much true in the case of DDOS . In my Introduction, I had mentioned that DDOS happens because of vulnerable softwares/applications running on a machines in a particular network. Attackers use those security holes to compromise the servers in different network and install the DDOS tools (eg trinoo -DDOS tool )

To prevent DDOS in future, follow the below steps which has 12 major steps

Setup machine / network keeping security in mind (Implement Good Security policy)

Setup a firewall which does Ingress and Egress Filtering at Gateway

Eg: Steps to Install AFP


bash# wget http://www.rfxnetworks.com/downloads/apf-current.tar.gz

bash# tar -zxf apf-current.tar.gz

bash# cd apf-<version number>

bash# ./install.sh

Notes: Go through the Document in the Apf and configure it for your needs. All configuration is set at conf.apf which is normally located at /etc/apf/conf.apf

Enable Anit-DOS mode in Apf (ie in conf.apf) . Also make sure that your root's cron has an entry like the one below

*/8 * * * * root /etc/apf/ad/antidos -a >> /dev/null 2>&1


Install IDS on your gateway/hosts to alert you when someone tries to sniff In.



(a) Wget ftp://ftp.cs.tut.fi/pub/src/gnu/aide-0.7.tar.gz

(b) Untar it

tar -zxvf aide-0.7.tar.gz

(c) cd aide-0.7

(d) Then execute

./configure -with-gnu-regexp

(e) Final steps to install make;make install

(f) Now the main step..To configure AIDE.AIDE stores all its rule sets in the file called aide.conf. Lets populate it get more details of how to configure and all from man aide.conf

(g) Here I am taking an example .See below

Here is a sample short aide.conf:

Rule = p+i+u+g+n+s+md5

/etc p+i+u+g

/sbin Rule

/usr/local/apache/conf Rule

/var Rule



In the above configuration listed , a rule called "Rule" is set to check permissions (p), inode (i), user (u), group (g), number of links (n), size (s), and md5 checksum (md5). This rules are applied to all files in /bin, /sbin, /var, and /usr/local/apache/conf because they should rarely if ever change. Files in /etc are checked for changes in only permissions, inode, user, and group because their size may change, but other things shouldn't. Files and directories in /var/spool and /var/log are not checked because those are folders where maximum updation takes place.

(h) After configuring AIDE should be initiated with all these rules.

For that execute aide -init


Conduct regular Audits on each host on the network to find installation of DDOS tools / Vulnerable applications.

Use tools like RKDET(vancouver-webpages.com/rkdet),RKHUNTER(www.rootkit.nl) and CHKROOTKIT(www.chkrootkit.org) to find if any rootkit has been already installed and to locate the effected binaries in the machine, if any.

Please find a simple Audit check List below to be done on a Hosts

Eg: Audit Check List


A quick checklist:

* Software Vulnerabilities.

* Kernel Upgrades and vulnerabilities.

* Check for any Trojans.

* Run chkrootkit.

* Check ports.

* Check for any hidden processes.

* Use audittools to check system.

* Check logs.

* Check binaries and RPMS.

* Check for open email relays.

* Check for malicious cron entries.

* Check /dev /tmp /var directories.

* Check whether backups are maintained.

* Check for unwanted users, groups, etc. on the system.

* Check for and disable any unneeded services.

* Locate malicious scripts.

* Querylog in DNS.

* Check for the suid scripts and nouser scripts.

* Check valid scripts in /tmp.

* Use intrusion detection tools.

* Check the system performance.

* Check memory performance (run memtest).


Enforce and Implement Security Measures on all hosts in the network.

Machines new or old should only be allowed to run on your network, if your Security Admin or DSE (Dedicated Security Expert) member approves it with status ``OK-to go live'' after auditing the box. All Host in the network should be checked on a regular basis by your DSE team to make sure that all hosts are uptodate and can fight any attacks.

Audit network on a regular basis to see if your network is vulnerable to attacks

Use Open Source Tools like NESSUS(www.nessus.org) ,NMAP(www.insecure.org/nmap),SAINT( www.saintcorporation.com/products/saint_engine.html),SARA (www-arc.com/sara/sara.html)for auditing a network to find its vulnerabilities.

Create a DSE (Dedicated Security Expert ) Team for your company.

Collect your networks and hosts data . Analysis them and study them to see from where and what kind of attacks are coming into the network. This step will help us to understand what kind of attacks we are facing and will help us to strengthen the preventive measures. Let me tell you this move is worth the money you spend,for sure.

Implement Sysctl protection against DDOS



bash# vi /etc/sysctl.conf

add the below code:

# Enable IP spoofing protection, turn on Source Address Verification

net.ipv4.conf.all.rp_filter = 1

# Enable TCP SYN Cookie Protection

net.ipv4.tcp_syncookies = 1

Add the below code in /etc/rc.local and restart network

for f in /proc/sys/net/ipv4/conf/*/rp_filter;

do echo 1 > done

echo 1 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/tcp_syncookies


Install Mod_dosevasive to your apache.

Mod_dosevasive is module for Apache to perform evasive action in the event of an HTTP DDoS attack or brute force attack. Please find the installation step of mod_dosevasive in DSO mode below

Eg: Install Mod_dosevasive


bash# wget http://www.nuclearelephant.com/projects/mod_evasive/mod_evasive_1.10.1.tar.gz

bash# tar -zxvf mod_evasive_1.10.1.tar.gz

bash# cd mod_evasive_1.10.1

bash# $APACHE_ROOT/bin/apxs -iac mod_evasive.c

Dont get scared by the variable ``$APACHE_ROOT'' . Its nothing, but a simple variable which stores the location of the apache installation (eg $APACHE_ROOT =/usr/local/apache)

bash# vi /usr/loca/apache/conf/httpd.conf

After this add the below code in httpd.conf

<IfModule mod_dosevasive.c>

DOSHashTableSize 3097

DOSPageCount 2

DOSSiteCount 50

DOSPageInterval 1

DOSSiteInterval 1

DOSBlockingPeriod 10
bash# /usr/loca/apache/bin/apachectl restart


Install Mod_security .

Since DDOS normally targets http. Its always good to have a filtering system for apache . So that the request gets analyzed before web server handles it. Please find the installation step of mod_security in DSO mode below

Eg: Installation Steps


bash# http://www.modsecurity.org/download/modsecurity-apache-1.9.2.tar.gz

bash# tar -zxvf modsecurity-apache-1.9.2.tar.gz

bash# cd modsecurity-apache-1.9.2

bash# /usr/local/apache/bin/apxs -cia mod_security.c

Create a file named mod_security.conf under the folder /usr/local/apache/conf

bash# vi /usr/local/apache/conf/mod_security.conf

Create the rule with reference to the link http://www.modsecurity.org/documentation/quick-examples.html

and add it in the mod_security.conf file.

Add the location of mod_security.conf to httpd.conf

bash# vi /usr/local/apache/conf/httpd.conf

Add the string below Include /usr/local/apache/conf/mod_security.conf

bash# /usr/local/apache/bin/apachectl stop

bash# /usr/local/apache/bin/apachectl start


Best solution to fight DDOS to a certain extend will be to setup load balancer for your services.

Creating awareness on Security

This is the most important part. People should be Security conscious. Then only they will understand the importance of Security measures . Server owner's and users should be made aware of the issues which can rise due to bad security measures .


DDOS can be prevented to a certain extend, if hosts and network are secure. So I advice each server owners and network owners to implement security measures on their network ,if they want to fight against DDOS.

About this document ...

Preventing DDOS attacks Written By
Blessen Cherian
Sr.Executive Team Member of Bobcares.com
[ Head Of Installation,Security and Networking Department ]

Poornam Info Vision Pvt Ltd



Please login to post a comment.
Informative. Thanks for sharing.

Nice cut and pasting. ;) Skillz. ;)
Andrew Boon
All true and we tried most of the things. It's getting trickier when the attack is from web-servers botnet with diverse range of IPs. They hit us with up to 15,000 pps now, so no software firewall or webserver can handle that. A really strong load-balancer and proxy help, with constant monitoring.
i would wonder why the IP wasnt dropped or pointed to some other faction, move the boonex.com DNS to another IP and the attack would not have been on the newly assigned IP, at least until you were able to get the attack curtailed. it would have been my ideology that you could have just taken boonex.com off line, implemented some of the appliances that are available that are DDOS attack compliant, and then reloaded with a repurpose on the network.

well i am glad to see you guys got it under control, see more but if there are not some other preventative measures put into place, this will come again.

Andrew Boon
We have changed IPs almost immediately, but it was chasing the domain. So we tunnelled it through ServerOrigin ethProxy. Even Prolexic does pretty much the same thing (for $7000/month). Taking down BoonEx wasn't feasible, because when it's even "half-up", version checking works. Anyway, we've learned our lessons. Servers are ready and we're moving right after 7.0.2, going behind a beefy hardware firewall, reverse proxy and on-demand cisco routers. LiteSpeed also seems to work much better see more than Apache for us. So, all taken at once, I think we'll be right.
Does that mean LightSpeed is compatible with Dolphin? :o)
Yes - LiteSpeed rocks! We use it on almost all our servers.... there is free open source options also available if you don't want to spend money on a LiteSpeed license or if the free 1 CPU version they offer is not enough for you. Litespeed 100% Dolphin compatible (and has been for years now).

Below is the legacy version of the Boonex site, maintained for Dolphin.Pro 7.x support.
The new Dolphin solution is powered by UNA Community Management System.