Network Denial of Service: Reflection Amplification

ID Name
T1498.001 Direct Network Flood
T1498.002 Reflection Amplification

Adversaries may attempt to cause a denial of service (DoS) by reflecting a high-volume of network traffic to a target. This type of Network DoS takes advantage of a third-party server intermediary that hosts and will respond to a given spoofed source IP address. This third-party server is commonly termed a reflector. An adversary accomplishes a reflection attack by sending packets to reflectors with the spoofed address of the victim. Similar to Direct Network Floods, more than one system may be used to conduct the attack, or a botnet may be used. Likewise, one or more reflectors may be used to focus traffic on the target.[1] This Network DoS attack may also reduce the availability and functionality of the targeted system(s) and network.

Reflection attacks often take advantage of protocols with larger responses than requests in order to amplify their traffic, commonly known as a Reflection Amplification attack. Adversaries may be able to generate an increase in volume of attack traffic that is several orders of magnitude greater than the requests sent to the amplifiers. The extent of this increase will depending upon many variables, such as the protocol in question, the technique used, and the amplifying servers that actually produce the amplification in attack volume. Two prominent protocols that have enabled Reflection Amplification Floods are DNS[2] and NTP[3], though the use of several others in the wild have been documented.[4] In particular, the memcache protocol showed itself to be a powerful protocol, with amplification sizes up to 51,200 times the requesting packet.[5]

ID: T1498.002
Sub-technique of:  T1498
Tactic: Impact
Platforms: Azure AD, Google Workspace, IaaS, Linux, Office 365, SaaS, Windows, macOS
Impact Type: Availability
Version: 1.3
Created: 02 March 2020
Last Modified: 30 March 2023


ID Mitigation Description
M1037 Filter Network Traffic

When flood volumes exceed the capacity of the network connection being targeted, it is typically necessary to intercept the incoming traffic upstream to filter out the attack traffic from the legitimate traffic. Such defenses can be provided by the hosting Internet Service Provider (ISP) or by a 3rd party such as a Content Delivery Network (CDN) or providers specializing in DoS mitigations.[6]

Depending on flood volume, on-premises filtering may be possible by blocking source addresses sourcing the attack, blocking ports that are being targeted, or blocking protocols being used for transport.[6]

As immediate response may require rapid engagement of 3rd parties, analyze the risk associated to critical resources being affected by Network DoS attacks and create a disaster recovery plan/business continuity plan to respond to incidents.[6]


ID Data Source Data Component Detects
DS0029 Network Traffic Network Traffic Flow

Monitor network data for uncommon data flows. Processes utilizing the network that do not normally have network communication or have never been seen before are suspicious.

DS0013 Sensor Health Host Status

Detection of Network DoS can sometimes be achieved before the traffic volume is sufficient to cause impact to the availability of the service, but such response time typically requires very aggressive monitoring and responsiveness or services provided by an upstream network service provider. Monitor for logging, messaging, and other artifacts highlighting the health of host sensors (ex: metrics, errors, and/or exceptions from logging applications)