Attack on heart of Internet fails to bring it down

Reply Wed 23 Oct, 2002 05:20 pm
(CNN) -- The attempt to bring down the heart of the Internet this week sounded ominous. But

experts say the attack was neither the most efficient nor likely way to inflict pain on the average Web surfer.


people had no idea this was happening," said Hari Balakrishnan, a computer science professor at the Massachusetts Institute

of Technology. "If the top five most-visited sites were down, that's when people will tell you their service was disrupted."

It's called a "denial of service" attack. And investigators are hard at work trying to find those responsible for

the assault, said FBI agent Steven Berry.

What happened this week is nothing new, Balakrishnan said. "I'm sure the

top 20 portals in the world are seeing attacks as we speak."

Hackers are constantly trying to disrupt the servers

where companies, schools and governments maintain their Web sites by overloading them with useless information.

Security specialists -- working for the government and companies -- monitor systems round-the-clock to ensure that

hackers can be stopped in time. But on occasion, the attacks have been so fierce they've brought down sites such as eBay,

Amazon and Yahoo.

Servers match requests with sites
The 13 servers hit this week -- key to the Internet's naming

system -- are responsible for matching Internet addresses with users' requests.

The attack, which began around 4:45

p.m. EDT Monday, flooded the 13 domain-name service root servers around the world with 30 to 40 times the normal amount of

data. Seven of the servers were affected enough to have periods of "zero-reachability," according to Web security firm Matrix


It took about an hour for security specialists to enact defensive measures and restore service.

The attack failed to disrupt service because the data on the 13 key servers is replicated tens of thousands of times

by Internet service providers and other computers around the world.

Only a small fraction of such requests -- as low

as 6 percent by some estimates -- ever hit the 13 systems. Many of them are for domains that don't exist, misconfigured

queries or seldom-visited sites, Balakrishnan said.

In some ways, the attacks demonstrate how the government and

companies stand ready to thwart hackers, experts say. But it also highlights the need to stay ahead of those that may attempt

to bring down popular sites or steal credit card or other sensitive data.

"This is always an arms race," said Richard

DeMillo, director of the Information Security Center at the Georgia Institute of Technology. "We shore up the defenses of the

Internet and the attackers shore up their tools."

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Reply Wed 23 Oct, 2002 07:21 pm
What really scares the hell out of me is the idea

that terrorists could do the same thing. These days my "paranoia meter" is over the

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Reply Sat 26 Oct, 2002 06:37 pm
Paranoia in a healthy measure is good. Common sense is more reliable when using the internet.

Fact is, the internet isn't the only place to get credit card numbers, social security numbers, etc. Visit any place of business and I guarantee that not many use paper shredders ~ paper trails are endless. Remember when people used to request the carbon inserts from credit card receipts?

Liability protection from the credit card companies is the best way ~ but that still won't stop identity theft.....

Rolling Eyes
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