Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Denial-Of-Service Attacks Hard To Kill

While tweets went silent last week, hundreds of other DDoS attacks were under way around the globe -- and several more powerful ones

Turns out Twitter, Facebook, and LiveJournal weren't the only sites hit hard by major distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks late last week, and their attacks definitely weren't the biggest: More than 770 different DDoSes were spotted across the globe last Thursday.

One DDoS attack that took out a 3G mobile operator in Asia's Web portal was a powerful, 30 gigabit-per-second one, according to Craig Labovitz, chief scientist at Arbor Networks, who has been tracking the recent trends in DDoS attacks. The 30-Gbps DDoS was unusually potent; most attacks average about 1 Gbps or less, according to Arbor.

"There are hundreds of DDoS attacks any given day," Labovitz says.

Lately it seems to be the year of the DDoS, starting wtih the series of DDoS attacks in early July on high-profile U.S. federal government Websites, as well as South Korean targets. The good news is that researchers say, so far, there's no sign that the attacks on government sites were any more than disruption tactics, rather than a DDoS masking a more nefarious type of attack.

Then last week, the Twitterverse suffered tweet withdrawal on when Twitter was knocked offline for several hours by an apparent targeted DDoS attack aimed at a pro-Georgian blogger with accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and LiveJournal. But while the DDoS grabbed the attention of mainstream media and users, it was really just one of hundreds of these attacks that occur each day.

DDoS attacks aren't sophisticated, nor are they stealthy. And most of the time, they're basically just used as short-term disruption attacks for protest purposes or, sometimes, extortion. "I've been looking at these [DDoS] attacks for 10 years. It's odd that 10 years later, we're still dealing with this problem," says Jose Nazario, manager of security research for Arbor. "But it's really easy to [launch] these kinds of attacks."

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