DDoSers are abusing the Plex Media Server to make attacks more potent

DDoSers are abusing the Plex Media Server to make attacks more potent

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Distributed denial-of-service attackers have seized on a new vector for amplifying the junk traffic they lob at targets to take them offline: end users or networks using the Plex Media Server.

DDoS amplification is a technique that leverages the resources of an intermediary to increase the firepower of attacks. Rather than sending data directly to the server being targeted, machines participating in an attack first send the data to a third party in the form of a request for a certain service. The third party then responds with a much larger payload to the site the attackers want to take down.

So-called amplification attacks work by sending the third parties requests that are manipulated so they appear to have come from the target. When the third parties respond, the replies go to the target rather than the attacker device that sent the request. One of the most powerful amplifiers used in the past was the memcached database caching system, which can magnify payloads by a factor of 51,000. Other amplifiers include misconfigured DNS servers and the Network Time Protocol, to name only three.

On Thursday, DDoS mitigation service Netscout said that DDoS-for-hire services recently turned to misconfigured Plex Media Servers to amplify their attacks. The Plex Media Server is software that lets people access the music, pictures, and videos they store on one device with other compatible devices. The software runs on Windows, macOS, and Linux.

In some cases—such as when the server uses the Simple Service Discovery Protocol to locate universal plug-and-play gateways on end users’ broadband modems—the Plex service registration responder gets exposed to the general Internet. Responses range from 52 bytes to 281 bytes, providing an average amplification factor of about 5.

two threads that end users can peruse to best address the issue.

Post updated to add the third-to-last and last paragraphs.

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