Protecting Your Online Business in 2020 From Network Time Protocol Amplification Attacks

by Josh Biggs in Tech on 18th December 2020

Anyone that has started an online business or connected their network to that of home-based employees this year can relate to having cybersecurity concerns. 

The reality is, cyberattacks have increased significantly this year due to the spread of the worldwide pandemic. One of the most damaging attacks that have been on the rise this year is the DDoS attack, and more specifically an NTP amplification attack.

An NTP amplification attack is one way to perform said DDoS, and today we’ll cover what you should know about them when it comes to cybersecurity – and most importantly what you can do to avoid them. 

Network Time Protocol Amplification Attack in a Nutshell 

In short, NTP amplification attack is a type of Distributed Denial of Service attack

Let’s break it down.   

Network Time Protocol (NTP) refers to one of the oldest protocols used for synchronization of clocks on the internet. It makes your networks and websites vulnerable because it’s publicly available. 

Hackers and hacktivists frequently use an NTP network protocol to perform DDoS attacks. It’s one of the so-called vectors they can utilize to affect your network. Vectors are essentially anything publicly available – such as HTTP or IP.    

What is a DDoS attack, you might ask? 

Unlike other cyber-attacks, a DDoS attack doesn’t allow hackers to get in your systems. What they do instead is overwhelm your system with fake traffic. 

That can take down your systems or slow down to the point that others can’t use it. It’s also common to mistake it with slow internet connection in general and thus overlook the attack.

Motivations Behind NTP DDoS Attacks 

Cyber-attacks occur due to a number of reasons. The motivation behind them normally depends on the nature of the business you own. DDoS attacks are popular with hacktivists, used for extortion, cyber vandalism, to take down the competition, personal revenge and more. 

If you become a target of hacktivists, it’s most likely because they disagree with you. Take note that not even the Brazilian government is safe from higher caliber hacktivists such as Anonymous. 

Most DDoS attacks are motivated financially, which also makes extortion common motivation for a cyber-attack. Hackers might take down your website with DDoS attack or entire network and demand ransom to restore it. 

The attacks can also be targeted at you individually or aim at damaging your business. Therefore, it can be a matter of personal revenge or rivals trying to take you down. 

What’s more, there doesn’t have to be a specific reason that you are the target of a DDoS attack performed using NTP. Hackers could simply have easy access to your business if you don’t have the necessary cybersecurity systems and tools to protect it yet.  

What Makes NTP Attacks So Dangerous? 

As with any DDoS type of attack, the more it takes for you to react, the bigger the consequences will be on your end. It might take you months to even register such attack, but this can cost companies over 2 million dollars

Also, you can buy anything online nowadays – even a DDoS attack. Therefore, if your rivals or someone with a personal agenda isn’t tech-savvy –even such damaging attack as DDoS is just a few clicks away.  

Online Business Cybersecurity in 2020 

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s the lesson of the importance of having an established online presence and business that at least partially operates online. 

As we shifted our business models online, went remote, or created some space for our ideas on the World Wide Web, cybersecurity threats followed.  

Unsuspected novel businesses and companies that went remote without patching up holes in their cybersecurity systems were the most vulnerable victims of the rising number of DDoS cyber-attacks. 

How to Protect Your Business from NTP Attacks

Considering that NTP amplification attacks use existing servers to perform attacks and can override even the most resilient networks regardless of their size, it presents a challenge even for security companies. 

Therefore, there is no readily available DIY solution to this issue. 

However, it can be done, and companies typically use proxies to filter NTP amplification outside your systems. 

They also monitor your systems to detect new threats and deflect before they even reach your systems. 

The Takeaway

Every new business has its unique challenges and online businesses are no exception. 

Whether you own a web-based retail business or have multiple employees remotely connected to your network, it’s important to protect your systems from cyber threats such as NTP amplification attack.

Categories: Tech