S Venkatesan, M Albanese, K Amin, S Jajodia, and M Wright

IEEE Conference on Communications and Network Security, Oct 2016.


Distributed Denial of Service attacks against high-profile targets have become more frequent in recent years. In response to such massive attacks, several architectures have adopted proxies to introduce layers of indirection between end users and target services and reduce the impact of a DDoS attack by migrating users to new proxies and shuffling clients across proxies so as to isolate malicious clients. However, the reactive nature of these solutions presents weaknesses that we leveraged to develop a new attack – the proxy harvesting attack – which enables malicious clients to collect information about a large number of proxies before launching a DDoS attack. We show that current solutions are vulnerable to this attack, and propose a moving target defense technique consisting in periodically and proactively replacing one or more proxies and remapping clients to proxies. Our primary goal is to disrupt the attacker’s reconnaissance effort. Additionally, to mitigate ongoing attacks, we propose a new client-to-proxy assignment strategy to isolate compromised clients, thereby reducing the impact of attacks. We validate our approach both theoretically and through simulation, and show that the proposed solution can effectively limit the number of proxies an attacker can discover and isolate malicious clients.