Saturday 18 November 2017

'Biggest cyber-attack in history' slows down global internet

Thinkstock
Thinkstock

Rob Williams

A ROW between an anti-spam group and a web-hosting company has caused a slowdown in the global internet after what experts are calling the biggest cyber-attack in history.

Internet services across the world have been disrupted and widespread congestion risks jamming crucial online infrastructure, the BBC reported today.

Millions of web users have experienced disruption to services like Netflix along with longer than usual delays in loading websites. Experts are now concerned that the congestion could lead to banking and email systems being slowed down.

The dispute began when Spamhaus, a group that campaigns against spam on the internet, added the Dutch company Cyberbunker to its blacklist.

Spamhaus, which is based in London and Geneva, uses a blacklist to filter unwanted messages from emails.

Cyberbunker is a hosting company that states it will host any website with the exception of terrorism related content or child pornography.

A spokesman for Spamhaus told the New York Times that following the blacklisting Spamhaus were hit with an unprecedented Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack.

A DDoS attack floods its target with an unmanageable amount of traffic thus slowing down access to the website, or rendering it inaccessible.

The cyber-attack in this instance is thought to have hit the Spamhaus servers with up to 300 billion bits per second (300Gbps) of data.

Making it the largest cyber attack in history. Spamhaus's Domain Name System (DNS) servers were targeted by attackers.

Prof Alan Woodward, a cybersecurity expert at the University of Surrey, told the BBC the effect of the attack is slowing internet services across the world.

"If you imagine it as a motorway, attacks try and put enough traffic on there to clog up the on and off ramps," he told the BBC.

"With this attack, there's so much traffic it's clogging up the motorway itself."

The CyberBunker website boasts that the company is "located in a secretive nuclear bunker, rebuking authorities regarding the rights of individuals".

Sven Olaf Kamphuis, who claims to be a spokesman for Cyberbunker, told the BBC that he believed Spamhaus was abusing its power and should not decide "what goes and does not go on the internet".

Steve Linford, chief executive for Spamhaus, said that the attacks were "targeting every part of the internet infrastructure that they feel can be brought down."

According to reports five national cyber-police-forces are investigating the attacks.

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