Today, March 27, 2013 is the day of the biggest internet attack in history. At least so far. Don’t worry, it’s not Terminator 2: Judgment Day and obviously if you’re reading this article you weren’t affected. That doesn’t make it any less scary. Let’s break it down.
The BBC reports that five countries are involved in fighting a cyber war against Dutch hosting firm Cyberbunker. Cyberbunker was blacklisted by several major anti-spam organizations around the world and in response, it launched its own attack against the some of the internet core servers — the DNS servers that translate site names (like solidsignal.com) into strings of numbers that get your data moving in the right direction. These servers process billions of requests and without them it would be largely impossible to use the internet.
Luckily there are hundreds of thousands of DNS servers, protected by multiple levels of redundancy, so most of the world has not felt the impact of this attack, which has been slowly ramping up for about a week.
Cyberbunker is using a well-known technique called the DDoS attack. This sort of attack aims so much traffic at a single site that its routers overload. (Here at The Solid Signal Blog we’re familiar with the problem, unfortunately.) When Cyberbunker aims up to 300 gigabits per second at its prey, these DNS servers fall quickly. According the the BBC, even the biggest DDoS attacks are generally in the range of 50 gigabits per second, and many smaller sites will crash with as little as .1 gigabit per second traffic. This is, to say the least, a big attack.
The good news for us here is that the problem is largely limited to Europe, but don’t think it couldn’t happen here. That’s why governments and service providers work together to try to catch these attacks, but attackers are working just as hard to come up with new methods.