Spamhaus attack highlights “fragility of the Internet:” IIA

IT industry group sees recent DDoS attack as being a wake up call to the limitations of the Internet

Internet spam filter provider, Spamhaus, has been hit by a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack, and the Internet Industry Association (IIA) sees it as a sign of how volatile the Internet really is.

What the Spamhaus attackers did in this case was target Internet Exchanges (IXs) to create congestion at key points of the Internet.

Akamai Technologies Asia-Pacific and Japan enterprise security director, John Ellis, said these attacks were designed to “suffocate” the networks at the IXs.

“The Internet is an inter-network of separately managed networks, connected together through a series of hierarchal relationships between network providers,” he said.

Ellis added that the Spamhaus attackers knew these relationships and targeted the upstream network providers after initial efforts to disrupt the availability of the Spamhaus website failed.

Whilst the Internet Exchanges were able to reroute around the congestion points, users still experienced performance issues using the Internet.

IIA CEO, Peter Lee, said he sees this attack as emblematic of the additional vulnerabilities that can be found in the design and implementations of networks on the Internet.

"This not only highlights the need for service providers to be vigilant in relation to their core Internet server security, but also the importance of initiatives such as the IIA icode,” he said.

The icode Lee refers to provides a mechanism for ISPs to alert customers in the event an attack results in the dissemination of malware that may affect a device.

DDoS attacks are becoming increasingly common in targeting selected websites and servers by employing huge volumes of traffic to grind servers to a halt.

While there have been no direct reports of this attack having a direct impact on Australian Internet users, Akamai Technologies foresees home users experiencing slower Internet or receive unwanted emails as part of the attack.

Patrick Budmar covers consumer and enterprise technology breaking news for IDG Communications. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_budmar.

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