DDoS Extortion E-mail: Yet Another Bluff?

Published: 2017-07-07
Last Updated: 2017-07-07 19:05:31 UTC
by Renato Marinho (Version: 1)
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And DDoS extortion campaigns continue to be reported. Two weeks ago, Johannes Ullrich published a diary [1] about a fake DDoS pretending to be sent from Anonymous, threatening the targeted company with a massive attack if they weren’t paid in Bitcoins. Yesterday we were reported of a similar extortion campaign although, this time, followed by a real DDoS test as promised by the sender.

The threat message seems to be a copy cat of an old campaign reported last year in a blog post by CloudFlare [2]. It was signed by the same Armada Collective group, as seen below (text was partialy anonymized): 

We are Armada Collective.
In past, we launched one of the largest attacks in Switzerland's history. Use Google.
All network of [victim’s name] will be DDoS-ed starting [date]. if you don't pay 10 Bitcoins @ [bit coin address]

When we say all, we mean all - users will not be able to use any of your services.

Right now we will start 15 minutes attack on one of your IPs ([victim’s IP address]). It will not be hard, we will not crash it at the moment to try to minimize eventual damage, which we want to avoid at this moment. It's just to prove that this is not a hoax. Check your logs!
If you don't pay by [date], attack will start, price to stop will increase to 20 BTC and will go up 10 BTC for every day of attack.
  If you report this to media and try to get some free publicity by using our name, instead of paying, attack will start permanently and will last for a long time.

This is not a joke.
Our attacks are extremely powerful - our Mirai botnet can reach over 1 Tbps per second. So, no protection will help.
Prevent it all with just 10 BTC @ [bit coin address]
Do not reply, we will probably not read. Pay and we will know its you. AND YOU WILL NEVER AGAIN HEAR FROM US!
Bitcoin is anonymous, nobody will ever know you cooperated.

Although the targeted company has actually received the DDoS test attack, there are some considerations on the way it was carried out which raise questions about the veracity of the campaign. By analyzing the DDoS test traffic, it was clear that it was sent through reflective attack using open NTP services over the Internet and not from a botnet like Mirai, as stated on the message. All the packets came from UDP/123 port (NTP service).

Regardless of the campaign reliability, it’s worth one's while to take some time and review your company’s anti-DDoS strategies. On most scenarios, a pre-established agreement with your ISP to filter out volumetric attacks can avoid unpleasant surprises and high costs during emergencies. If you already have the agreement, it would be interesting to put it to test and check if the response time is suitable to your business requirements.

Until now, we are unaware of any case of DDoS being launched after those e-mail threatening messages and there are no reasons to pay – even though there is no guarantee that the extortion will stop. 

If you received similar e-mails, please forward it to us.

References:[1] https://isc.sans.edu/forums/diary/Fake+DDoS+Extortions+Continue+Please+Forward+Us+Any+Threats+You+Have+Received/22550/
[2] https://blog.cloudflare.com/empty-ddos-threats-meet-the-armada-collective/

Renato Marinho
Morphus Labs | LinkedIn | Twitter

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