An adversary may execute a flooding attack using the HTTP protocol with the intent to deny legitimate users access to a service by consuming resources at the application layer such as web services and their infrastructure. These attacks use legitimate session-based HTTP GET requests designed to consume large amounts of a server's resources. Since these are legitimate sessions this attack is very difficult to detect.
The table(s) below shows the other attack patterns and high level categories that are related to this attack pattern. These relationships are defined as ChildOf, ParentOf, MemberOf and give insight to similar items that may exist at higher and lower levels of abstraction. In addition, relationships such as CanFollow, PeerOf, and CanAlsoBe are defined to show similar attack patterns that the user may want to explore.
Relevant to the view "Mechanisms of Attack" (CAPEC-1000)
Meta Attack Pattern - A meta level attack pattern in CAPEC is a decidedly abstract characterization of a specific methodology or technique used in an attack. A meta attack pattern is often void of a specific technology or implementation and is meant to provide an understanding of a high level approach. A meta level attack pattern is a generalization of related group of standard level attack patterns. Meta level attack patterns are particularly useful for architecture and design level threat modeling exercises.
This type of an attack requires the ability to generate a large amount of HTTP traffic to send to a target server.
To mitigate this type of an attack, an organization can monitor the typical traffic flow. When spikes in usage occur, filters could examine traffic for indicators of bad behavior with respect to the web servers, and then create firewall rules to deny the malicious IP addresses. These patterns in the filter could be a combination of trained behavior, knowledge of standards as they apply to the web server, known patterns, or anomaly detection. Firewalling source IPs works since the HTTP is sent using TCP so the source IP can't be spoofed; if the source IP is spoofed is, then it's not legitimate traffic. Special care should be taken care with rule sets to ensure low false positive rates along with a method at the application layer to allow a valid user to begin using the service again. Another possible solution is using 3rd party providers as they have experts, knowledge, experience, and resources to deal with the attack and mitigate it before hand or while it occurs. The best mitigation is preparation before an attack, but there is no bulletproof solution as with ample resources a brute force attack may succeed.
CAPEC Content Team
The MITRE Corporation
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Page Last Updated or Reviewed:
July 31, 2018
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