DDOS Attacks leveraging LDAP !

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photo by Christiaan Colen

Yesterday, DDoS mitigation provider Corero Network Security disclosed a zero-day distributed denial of service attack (DDoS) technique, observed in the wild, that is capable of amplifying malicious traffic by a factor of as much as 55x. Several sites published the story as “Attackers are now abusing exposed LDAP servers to amplify DDoS attacks”.

 

According to Corero, the attacks exploited the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP), but reading the details of the press release, it appears that the attackers were using Connectionless LDAP services (CLDAP) .

In this case, the attacker sends a simple query to a vulnerable reflector supporting the Connectionless LDAP service (CLDAP) and using address spoofing makes it appear to originate from the intended victim. The CLDAP service responds to the spoofed address, sending unwanted network traffic to the attacker’s intended target.

Connectionless LDAP  is a very old technical specification, published in 1995 as RFC 1798.  In 2003, this specification was obsoleted by RFC 3352 and moved to historical status. One of the main reason for obsoleting the proposed standard was its insufficient security capabilities.

OpenDJ, the open source LDAP Directory Services in Java, has never supported CLDAP and thus cannot be used in such attack. So, if you are a  ForgeRock customer, you should not worry about this kind of attack. But if you’re running a legacy product, that has CLDAP enabled by default, it is probably time to think about moving to a more recent and up to date directory service, such as OpenDJ.

 

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