Nexusguard Research Uncovers New “Black Storm” Attack Threat to Communications Service Provider Networks

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October 4, 2021

A new cyber threat, coined a “Black Storm” attack, could potentially wreak havoc on communications service provider (CSP) networks, according to new distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) research from Nexusguard: A New Threat to CSP Networks – The Impending “Black Storm.” While DDoS amplification attacks rely on DNS servers or other similar open services to interrupt connectivity, a Black Storm attack can leverage any device connected to the Internet. Researchers caution that the volume from one Black Storm attack could terminate medium to large-sized enterprises in a clean sweep and severely cripple a large-scale CSP network.

According to the firm’s analysis, hackers can achieve Black Storm attacks more easily than amplification attacks, which could quickly dominate the cyberworld. Black Storm attacks could be manifested by hackers employing a BlackNurse attack in a reflective manner (rBlackNurse attacks). By generating spoofed UDP requests to CSP devices’ closed UDP ports—a reflection of the ping replies returned to the CSP network ping sources in BlackNurse attacks—the devices respond with destination port unreachable responses. As more devices continue to respond to the spoofed IP source, the volume of responses completely overwhelms the target CSP network and creates the Black Storm attack. Nexusguard advises CSPs to perform regular vulnerability scanning, apply access control to routers and use deep learning-based detection methods. Deep learning approaches can help CSPs analyze huge amounts of data quickly and accurately while overcoming the inefficiencies inherent in threshold or signature-based methods.

“The potential risk from impending Black Storm attacks could obliterate individual enterprises and have devastating consequences for communications service providers and completely saturate their networks,” warned Juniman Kasman, chief technology officer for Nexusguard. “Networks targeted by these attacks need to apply deep learning intelligence in order to analyze traffic patterns and identify Black Storm attacks well before they can be exploited.”

The pandemic witnessed a massive increase in reliance on connectivity as well as a 341% increase in DDoS attacks in 2020, which strained CSPs and internet service providers (ISPs) that provide the networks for the new levels of remote work. Nexusguard researchers caution that CSPs and other organizations that rely on standard DDoS mitigation solutions designed to detect and mitigate incoming traffic risk missing internal traffic issues, which can arise from rBlackNurse traffic proliferating internally within CSP networks.

To help CSPs quickly launch anti-DDoS capabilities to protect customers, Nexusguard launched the TAP100 Program, which removes the hardware barriers associated with typical anti-DDoS service ramp-up, allowing CSP product teams and C-suites to capture new revenue opportunities and ensure superior customer service.

Nexusguard’s DDoS threat research reports on attack data from botnet scanning, honeypots, CSPs and traffic moving between attackers and their targets to help companies identify vulnerabilities and stay informed about global cyber security trends.

Read Nexusguard’s full Black Storm white paper for more details.