Denial-of-Service attacks stress-test video servers

Chicago (IL) - A new category of network appliance designed for stress testing of video-on-demand (VoD) and multimedia servers, according to its manufacturer, can emulate real-world Internet traffic patterns, including spam, virus delivery, and DDoS attacks.

The diversifEye performance testing appliances, manufactured in Dublin, Ireland, by Shenick Network Systems, are 2U and 4U rack-mount devices that generate simulated traffic patterns, testing the integrity and reliability of video and multimedia servers, and measuring their responses under pressure. To resemble the real world as much as possible, diversifEye can literally be commanded to attack the servers it’s monitoring.

As stated on the manufacturer’s Web site, "Shenick diversifEye offers the ability to generate very large quantities of peer to peer, web, email (with attached viruses), streaming and multicast traffic in order to determine QoS and QoE (quality of user experience) at both network and application layers." The appliance accomplishes this, according to Shenick, by utilizing monitoring applications on both the server and appliance side, to create a cohesive "end-to-end" report, from what the company characterizes as both the attacker’s and the victim’s point of view.

Furthermore, states Shenick, diversifEye can emulate reflective DDoS attacks. Apparently, such emulation would trigger the tested server into sending waves of ACK signals back to the appliance itself, in effect forcing the server to attack the appliance. In such a case, the appliance would literally pretend to spoof a pretend target. But in so doing, the server’s capability to withstand the attack - and perhaps thwart it, with whatever security measures its administrators may take - is monitored on all ends : "attacker, unwitting participant, and victim."

As the Web site states further, "diversifEye emulates and maintains statistics for each and every IP application flow and can therefore provide individual customer and overall collective service response under both regular and attack conditions."

Software manufacturers currently produce stress and performance testing software, such as Spirent’s Web Avalanche ; and purely passive performance testing appliances, such as Coradiant’s TrueSight, have been available for the last few years. Shenick’s diversifEye may be the first network hardware component - at least, the first one covered here - purposefully designed to do its best to lay waste to a multimedia server environment, with the full blessing of its proprietors.

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