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Irish internet service providers hit by cyber attacks

Some smaller Irish internet service providers are undergoing ‘denial of service’ (DDoS) attacks with demands for Bitcoin payments. 

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Some Irish internet service providers are experiencing ‘denial of service’ cyber attacks

Some Irish internet service providers are experiencing ‘denial of service’ cyber attacks

Some Irish internet service providers are experiencing ‘denial of service’ cyber attacks

Irish internet service providers are undergoing a series of ‘denial of service’ (DDoS) cyber attacks, although there are no indications that the activity is related to the ongoing HSE ransomware attacks.

Today, Cork-based provider Nova Broadband said that its services were unavailable due to a DDoS attack.

“Our network is currently unavailable due to a DDoS attack by criminals,” the company tweeted. “There has been no compromise of our systems and no data has been accessed. We are working to restore access. Our phones are down.”

Last week, one of the country’s largest web hosting providers, Blacknight, suffered difficulties over a two-day period due to a similar attack.

One cyber security executive says that the problem is now widespread.

“Many major ISPs in Ireland are currently being threatened with DDoS,” said Ronan Murphy, CEO of Cork-based Smarttech.

Mr Murphy claimed that some ISPs have received extortion messages demanding Bitcoin payments.

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Two other Irish ISPs contacted by Independent.ie said they were aware of ongoing DDoS attacks and Bitcoin demands but did not want to openly discuss them for fear of appearing to conflate the issue with the ransomware attacks currently crippling HSE services.

“It’s a different issue,” one executive said. “But try telling that to people in the current climate.”

A DDoS attack attempts to overwhelm a service with traffic so that it can’t function in the normal way. Results of a DDoS attack commonly include a company’s website being unavailable. Criminals often use ‘botnets’, or clusters of machines marshalled to act in unison, to support the DDoS attacks.

DDoS attacks of the type currently underway against Irish ISPs typically target smaller organisations with less online capacity as they are easier to overwhelm that larger online businesses.

"In the past week, a number of internet service provider networks, of varying sizes, have been intermittently targeted with DDoS attacks in Ireland,” said Eileen Gallagher, interim CEO of the Internet Neutral Exchange Association, which deals with several large ISPs and data providers.

“These attacks are not related to the issues being experienced by the Health Services Executive. The Gardai, PSNI and the National Cyber Security Centre have been engaged with networks who are experiencing these attacks in recent days. Engineers in the industry in Ireland have been working together to address the issues these attacks have created in service provider networks, with the aim of restoring services to customers who may have been affected. The INEX team has been working with members throughout this time and lending support and expertise where appropriate.”


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