Attacks against the Injternet

Andre Kesteloot andre.kesteloot at
Tue Feb 13 20:26:57 CST 2007

Extract from the AFIO Bulletin dated 12 Feb

Although you may not have noticed- which is a testament to the 
resiliency of the Internet- there was a major attack last Tuesday on 13 
of the "root servers" that drive the Information Superhighway. While the 
rest of the world was celebrating the 4th anniversary of "Safer Internet 
Day" (okay, maybe not), the technologist responsible for securing the 
infrastructure of the Internet were battling one of the worst attacks 
since a similar occurrence in 2002. Details of the attack haven't been 
released yet. What is known is that at approximately 7 PM EST, 13 of the 
Internet's "root servers"- the computers that provide the primary 
roadmap for nearly all Internet communications- came under "sustained 
and heavy attack" by a network work of remote controlled zombie 
computers. You may recall that an earlier issue of WINs [WINs #01-07 
<>] warned of 
the dangers from cyber attackers enslaving personal computers to become 
zombies in a "botnet" that the attacker can then control. The massive 
botnet in this case was programmed to try to overwhelm the root servers 
with huge amounts of data. One of the servers targeted was controlled by 
the Department of Defense Network Information Center, and there is also 
evidence that the servers that manage the .org and .uk top level domains 
were hit. Although the perpetrators of the attack are still unknown, the 
majority of the computers used in the attack were located in South 
Korea, China and the United States. Thirteen percent of the botnet was 
located in San Francisco where the annual RSA Security Conference was 
being held. Paul Levins, vice president of the Internet Corporation for 
Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) -- the entity charged with, among 
other tasks, coordinating responses among root server providers in such 
attacks - said it would be a week or more before meaning details of the 
attack were known. This attack highlights two points about the Internet- 
first, personal computers are far too unsecured and easily commandeered, 
and second, the Internet is extremely resilient- so much so that nary a 
person noticed a major attack on its infrastructure.  [WashPost 
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