Distributed denial of service attacks against the websites of federal departments and several Canadian provinces and territories — including PEI, Yukon, Saskatchewan and Manitoba — have prompted the federal cyber agency to issue an IT alert.
Since September 13, the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security has responded to several DDoS campaigns targeting multiple levels within the Government of Canada, as well as the financial and transportation sectors, the alert says.
It doesn’t attribute the attacks, but suggests the cyber centre knows. Publicity is part of what the DDoS attackers seek, “and why we avoid referencing the malicious actor,” the alert says.
Open-source reporting links some of this activity to Russian state-sponsored cyber threat actors whose tactics, techniques, and procedures have been extensively documented, the centre says. In July 2022, the centre predicted Russian state-sponsored cyber threat actors would almost certainly continue to perform actions in support of the Russia’s attack on Ukraine. In Februrary centre reported DDoS attacks on countries that support Ukraine.
“There are relatively simple ways to protect against this kind of campaign,” says the centre. “In most cases, this activity can be managed by standard cyber defence tools. But organizations should consider help from third-party DDoS solutions to ward off significant and focused activity. And once the actors stop the malicious activity, websites go back to normal.”
A DDoS campaign uses a collection of infected computers operating as a botnet to flood a target website’s server with internet traffic and disrupt its ability to provide services.
In most cases, the centre says, this nuisance activity can be managed by on-premises solutions. “However, assistance from third-party DDoS solutions should be considered to prevent significant and focused malicious activity. Websites will commonly return to a normal state of operation once the actors have stopped the malicious activity.”
The centre recommends IT leaders
review perimeter systems to determine if DDoS and related activity has occurred;
review and implement preventative actions in the Cyber Centre’s guidance on protecting your organization against denial-of-service attacks;
Review the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) published guidance for U.S. agencies on DDoS attacks.
IT leaders should also review and implement the Cyber Centre’s Top 10 IT Security Actions, particularly recommendations to consolidate, monitor, and defend internet gateways, and isolate web-facing applications.
Finally, the centre urges all organizations to report DDoS attacks through its website – cyber.gc.ca – so it can collect information, track the activity and warn others about the trends and specific indicators of compromise.
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