- DDoS attacks targeting cryptocurrency companies and blockchains are on the rise.
- The attackers flooded the Manta Pacific blockchain with over 500 million requests in four hours.
- DDoS attackers are not always motivated by money.
Manta Pacific, a rapidly emerging Layer 2 blockchain, recently completed one of its most significant milestones to date: the launch of its native MANTA governance token via airdrop to the community.
For many of the airdrop applicants, this is their first time using blockchain, so Manta wanted a smooth experience.
Then disaster struck.
Just as token claims began, the network was hit with an influx of traffic, clogging the network and causing transaction fees to reach abnormal levels. Manta was the target of so-called distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.
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“Airdrop applicants were either unable to use the network that day or faced long wait times for their transactions to be processed,” said Co-Founder of p0x Labs and head of Manta Network, which operates Manta Pacific. Contributor Kenny Li said. DL News In the aftermath.
Manta is one of the latest victims of blockchain-based DDoS attacks, but it’s not the first.
DDoS attacks have plagued traditional web infrastructure since the beginning. According to a recent report from cybersecurity firm StationX, there will be more than 15 million DDoS attacks in 2023, a 74% increase compared to 2022.
Of these, more than 60% of DDoS attacks targeted the financial and telecommunications industries. These industries are areas where blockchain technology overlaps significantly.
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Additionally, according to a 2023 report from web hosting company Cloudflare, cryptocurrencies were the most DDoS-hit sector by attack traffic volume, accounting for over 4% of all DDoS traffic in the fourth quarter of this year.
As the cryptocurrency market recovers over the past year, there is growing concern among builders and users that more DDoS attackers will specifically target blockchains and seek to profit from their disruption. I am.
What is a DDoS attack?
A DDoS attack is a malicious attempt to disrupt a target server or website’s normal traffic by overwhelming it with a flood of Internet traffic.
Similarly, in a blockchain-based DDoS attack, an attacker sends spam transactions or transaction requests to disrupt the target blockchain and prevent legitimate transactions from passing through.
When Manta was targeted, servers processing transaction requests on the network were flooded with 500 million requests over a period of about four hours, Lee said. Typically, Manta processes approximately 150,000 transactions every day.
DDoS attacks differ from regular network congestion in that they are intentional, malicious, and orchestrated. However, it can sometimes be difficult to tell the difference between a DDoS attack and regular congestion.
In recent months, an influx of users minting ordinals (cryptoassets like NFTs) has caused several blockchains to go offline for extended periods. Such cases are similar to DDoS attacks in that they overload the blockchain with transactions, but they may not be malicious. Rather, they are often the result of efforts by profit-seeking users to mint valuable tokens before others.
Other cases are more obviously malicious. A game where players can earn money in 2022 STEPN suffered a DDoS attack As a reaction after taking anti-fraud measures.
The logic behind DDoSing
Sending a large number of transactions to the blockchain can be costly. But even so, exploiters may still find them valuable.
“The direct presence of tokens, or money, on a blockchain provides a means for attackers to exploit and potentially profit from it,” said Andy, CEO of crypto security company Blocksec. Mr Chow said. DL News.
Zhou explained that DDoS attackers may short the target blockchain’s native tokens in the hopes that the attack will cause the token price to fall. Short selling is a financial strategy in which a trader borrows an asset and sells it on the market in the hope that the future price will fall.
Attackers can also cause financial losses by preventing users from performing profitable on-chain transactions or preventing liquidations in DeFi lending protocols.
Still, DDoS attackers aren’t necessarily motivated by money, according to blockchain security firm CertiK.
A CertiK spokesperson said, “Attack attacks can also be a demonstration of power or technological prowess, or expose network vulnerabilities.” DL News.
Such behavior is not unheard of in the hacker world. Kevin Mitnick, the world’s most famous hacker, said in a US Senate hearing that he was motivated more by the intellectual challenge of hacking than by financial gain.
CertiK noted that DDoS attacks may also involve competitors seeking to damage the reputation or trustworthiness of a particular blockchain, or may be carried out for ideological reasons.
Despite the rapid increase in DDoS attacks, there are several ways blockchains can protect themselves.
Niccolo Pozzolini and Carlo Parisi, smart contract auditors at crypto security firm Hakken, said that at the top of their list of precautions is setting appropriate transaction fees. DL News.
“By setting appropriate fees, networks can prevent bad actors from flooding them with low-value transactions,” Parisi said.
Ethereum’s high fees, which increase when the network is congested, have historically helped the network defend against certain types of DDoS attacks over the past seven years.
For new blockchains like Manta, which charge pennies for transactions, such low fees can be a double-edged sword. “The lower the cost of spamming a network, the lower the cost barrier for carrying out such an attack,” Manta’s Lee said.
Blockchains like Manta will have to look for other solutions.
Pozzolini said the next best thing they can do is avoid single points of failure. For layer 2 networks like Manta, this means decentralizing the sequencer (the software responsible for bundling transactions and sending them to the Ethereum mainnet for validation).
Another way to stop DDoSing is to set up software that actively limits incoming transaction requests (a process called rate limiting or throttling).
Zhou said commercial solutions are available that can detect anomalous traffic patterns and drop malicious traffic instantly. However, these solutions rely on accurate recognition of malicious traffic to effectively mitigate DDoS attacks.
In the case of Manta, which has already been hit by a DDoS attack, ensuring those responsible are identified is also key to keeping the industry safe.
“We have a list of IP addresses, data centers and cloud providers,” Lee said.
“We are currently cooperating with the appropriate authorities and legal counsel and cannot comment further at this time.”
Tim Craig is DL News’ DeFi correspondent based in Edinburgh. To get tips, email@example.com.