F5 Labs, in conjunction with our partner Baffin Bay Networks, researches global attack traffic region to region to gain a deeper understanding of the cyber threat landscape. Aside from attack campaigns targeting the entire Internet (IPv4 address space), the attack landscape varies regionally in terms of sources, targets, and attack types. In addition, targeted ports expose regional differences in IT norms when it comes to the way non-standard ports are used for HTTP and SSH.
In this latest data collection, we looked at malicious traffic over the same 90-day period—October 1, 2019 through December 31, 2019—in the United States (U.S.), Canada, Europe, Russia, the Middle East, Asia (excluding China), and Australia. Our sensor and tracking system is constantly evolving, which gives us a unique snapshot of the threat landscape at any given time. The attack landscape targeting systems in Asia during the winter of 2019 was characterized by a large volume of traffic coming from within the region, specifically Singapore.
- French cloud computing company OVH SAS, with IP addresses geographically located in Singapore, launched the most attack traffic directed towards systems in Asia.
- Credential stuffing attacks targeting RFB/VNC port 5900, noted in the fall of 2019, continued during this time period. They were launched through networks in Russia, France, and Moldova and targets were not unique to systems in Asia; these attacks were felt all over the world.
- Fifty percent of the countries in the top attacking source countries list are in Asia, with IP addresses located in Singapore only targeting systems in Asia.
- The top targeted port, SMB port 445, and the third most attacked port, SSH port 22, were commonly targeted across the world because exploiting a vulnerability on either of these services can give a malicious actor access to the entire system.
Top Source Traffic Countries
Before we look at the top “source traffic countries,” it’s important to clarify that we’re talking about the geographical source of IP addresses. The “top source traffic countries” does not necessarily mean that the country itself, individuals, or organizations based in that country were responsible for the malicious traffic. The attack traffic could have been coming through a proxy server, compromised system, or IoT device with IP addresses assigned in a particular country. For expediency, we refer to these as “top source traffic countries.”
Globally, the most attack traffic was seen coming out of IP addresses assigned in Russia. However, we cannot do any kind of attribution on this traffic, because we only have the geolocation of the IP address. We’ve seen a large increase in traffic coming out of Russia and Moldova related to the port 5900 targeting we saw starting in the summer of 2019, which we are still actively investigating. Italy, Singapore, the U.S., and the Netherlands round out the top 5 for sources of global attack traffic. The full top ten source traffic countries were seen attacking all regions of the world. Moldova is a relative newcomer to this list, again due to the global VNC port 5900 attack campaign.
When zooming in on Asia specifically, 50% of the top source traffic countries are in region. This type of behavior can be more difficult for enterprises to filter out as it requires behavioral detection versus geographical IP address blocking, assuming that businesses want to remain accessible to customers within their region.
Singapore, the top source traffic country in Asia was only seen targeting Asia. The top four attacking IP addresses in Asia all came from Singapore. Along with this, 16 of the top 50 IP addresses targeting systems in Asia were geographically located in Singapore. This distributed style of attack is deliberate and takes more resources (systems and manpower) to carry out, and therefore is often attributed to more sophisticated threat actors. The other countries in the top ten were all seen attacking all regions of the world.