Here comes the latest addition to cyber attack victims, GitHub , that revealed it was knocked offline for less than 10 minutes this week as it weathered the biggest ever DDoS attack in history.
— TechCrunch (@TechCrunch) 2 March 2018
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) is a cyber attack characterized by taking down websites and web services forcibly. This is done by flooding a site with so much fake traffic that the service being unable to handle all the traffic goes offline.
GitHub, the site which is used by developers to store codes, is a common target for DDoS attacks. In 2015, the Chinese government was suspected to run a five day long attack on the site using its then latest weapon called Great Cannon. The attack was then considered the largest DDoS attack in history. However, this latest one peaked at a whopping of 1.35 terabits, breaking the record.
According to GitHub, the attackers used “memcrashing” which involves hijacking memcache servers that are used by companies to speed up their web services and applications. Attackers hacked the memcache servers which GitHub said were “inadvertently accessible on the public internet” and then amplified the traffic massively to an extent where the site could no longer process it.
GitHub said that a memcache server can amplify a single incoming byte to 51kilobytes.
GitHub took assistance from Akamai Prolexic by routing its traffic towards Prolexic which blocked data detected as malicious. The DDoS attack finally stopped after eight minutes when the attackers called it off.
GitHub was down for five minutes between 17:21 to 17:26 UTC and suffered from sporadic outages between 17:26 to 17:30 UTC.
So until memcache servers are being used by sites, such DDoS attacks are likely to happen and there is no guarantee that GitHub attack will always be the biggest one in history.