It is a concept that many probably didn’t even realise was possible, but security experts are claiming that the internet around the world has been slowed down in what security experts are describing as the biggest cyber-attack of its kind. Popular internet services like Netflix are said to have been affected and experts worry it could escalate to affect banking and email systems.
Global internet traffic is said to have slowed after disagreements between a spam-fighting group and a hosting firm has led to a multitude of denial of service attacks on the domain name servers of the spam-fighting group, Spamhaus. Spamhaus claim that their servers have been under attack for over a week with peaks of 300 GB a second in an attack that would result in the collapse of most servers.
Spamhaus hosts blacklists that are designed to stop email spam around the world. Recently, the London and Geneva based company used its email spam list to block servers from Cyberbunker, a Dutch-based web hosting service. Spamhaus claims that Cyberbunker is working with other criminal groups in Eastern Europe and Russia to launch these denial of service attacks in retaliation.
Cyberbunker, said, in a message, that Spamhaus was abusing its position, and should not be allowed to decide “what goes and does not go on the internet”, however, they stopped short of admitting complicity. Denial of Service attacks are illegal in many countries and five e national cyber-police-forces are said to be investigating the attacks.
It is in fact remarkably simple to affect the infrastructure of the Internet due to inherent weaknesses in the web’s domain name system. Professor Alan Woodward, a cybersecurity expert at the University of Surrey, described to the BBC how DNS systems are “…essentially the phone book for the internet. If you could prevent access to the phone book then you would effectively render the web useless.” With this attack, he continued; “if you imagine it as a motorway, attacks try and put enough traffic on there to clog up the on and off ramps, with this attack, there’s so much traffic it’s clogging up the motorway itself.”
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