Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Computer Science

Major Professor

Maxfield Schuchard

Committee Members

Scott Routi, Bruce Maclennan


We present the Maestro Attack, a Link Flooding Attack (LFA) that leverages Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) engineering techniques to improve the flow density of botnet-sourced Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) on transit links. Specific-prefix routes poisoned for certain Autonomous Systems (ASes) are advertised by a compromised network operator to channel bot-to-bot ows over a target link. Publicly available AS relationship data feeds a greedy heuristic that iteratively builds a poison set of ASes to perform the attack. Given a compromised BGP speaker with advantageous positioning relative to the target link in the Internet topology, an adversary can expect to enhance flow density by more than 30 percent. For a large botnet (e.g., Mirai), the bottom line result is augmenting the DDoS by more than a million additional infected hosts. Interestingly, the size of the adversary-controlled AS plays little role in this effect; attacks on large core links can be effected by small, resource-limited ASes. Link vulnerability is evaluated across several metrics, including BGP betweenness and botnet flow density, and we assess where an adversary must be positioned to execute the attack most successfully. Mitigations are presented for network operators seeking to insulate themselves from this attack.

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