Sunday, November 09, 2008

Internet Attacks Grow More Potent

John Markoff writes in The New York Times:

Attackers bent on shutting down large Web sites — even the operators that run the backbone of the Internet — are arming themselves with what are effectively vast digital fire hoses capable of overwhelming the world’s largest networks, according to a new report on online security.

In these attacks, computer networks are hijacked to form so-called botnets that spray random packets of data in huge streams over the Internet. The deluge of data is meant to bring down Web sites and entire corporate networks. Known as distributed denial of service, or D.D.O.S., attacks, such cyberweapons are now routinely used during political and military conflicts, as in Estonia in 2007 during a political fight with Russia, and in the Georgian-Russian war last summer. Such attacks are also being used in blackmail schemes and political conflicts, as well as for general malicious mischief.

A survey of 70 of the largest Internet operators in North America, South America, Europe and Asia found that malicious attacks were rising sharply and that the individual attacks were growing more powerful and sophisticated, according to the Worldwide Infrastructure Security Report. This report is produced annually by Arbor Networks, a company in Lexington, Mass., that provides tools for monitoring the performance of networks.

The report, which will be released Tuesday, shows that the largest attacks have grown steadily in size to over 40 gigabits, from less than half a megabit, over the last seven years. The largest network connections generally available today carry 10 gigabits of data, meaning that they can be overwhelmed by the most powerful attackers.

More here.


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