Tandem Attack: DDoS Attack on Micro-service Auto-scaling Mechanisms

Anat Bremler-Barr and Michael Czeizler
Poster and brief announcement
Cloud, DDoS attack


Auto-scaling is a fundamental capability of cloud computing which allows consuming resources dynamically according to changing traffic needed to be served.
By the micro-services architecture paradigm, software systems are built as a set of loosely-coupled applications and services that can be individually scaled.
In this paper, we present a new attack the \emph{Tandem Attack} that exploits the Tandem behavior of micro-services with different scaling properties. Such issues can result in Denial of Service (DoS) and Economic Denial of Sustainability (EDoS) created by malicious attackers or self-inflicted due to wrong configurations set up by administrators. We demonstrate the Tandem attack using a popular AWS serverless infrastructure modeling two services and show that removing servers’ management responsibility from the cloud users does not mitigate the different scaling properties challenge and can even make the problem harder to solve.