August 28th, 2013
Outgoing Department of Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano ominously warned of a coming “cyber event” in an open letter to her successor this week, claiming that such an attack on the domestic internet “will have a serious effect on our lives, our economy, and the everyday functioning of our society.”
With tensions at a breaking point in the middle east, and all military options on the table, there can be no doubt that we (meaning all sides involved) are now engaged in cyber warfare ahead of traditional military activities.
According to Akamai, which monitors global internet conditions, the United States is experiencing a surge in web attacks this morning, clocking in at 81% above normal.
REVEALED: The Nato bunker deep in Netherlands forest where hackers ‘almost brought down world’s internet in biggest every cyber-attack’
- SpamHaus group under attack from cyber-vandals in Geneva
- But other unconnected sites across the world have been caught in attack
- Now, emails have slowed down as a result, expert claims
PUBLISHED: 10:19 EST, 27 March 2013 | UPDATED: 06:36 EST, 28 March 2013
This is the ex-Nato bunker where hackers almost brought down the world’s internet in a sustained revenge attack.
It comes after a bitter feud between two online companies – a group which aims to block unwanted emails known as ‘spam’ and a firm accused of sending them – erupted.
Spam-fighting organization Spamhaus says it’s being subjected to a massive cyber-attack, apparently from groups angry at being blacklisted by the Geneva-based group.
Cyberbunker, is based at an ex-Nato bunker, is what is known as a hosting company, meaning it allows organisations to make their websites accessible on the internet by providing space on a server
The Cyberbunker headquarters in Kloetinge, Netherlands, from which the ‘biggest cyber attack in history’, has been launched
Cyber-attack: Dutch firm SpamHaus was targeted in an attack so big that ‘bystanders worldwide’ were apparently affected
Mobile banking users took to Twitter to ask what was happening
Business and personal mobile banking customers for Natwest, RBS, and Ulster Bank are today experiencing problems – although it has not yet been confirmed whether this is linked to the attack
Millions of web users have already experienced disruption to popular services such as film and TV site Netflix, along with longer than usual delays in loading websites.
The problems began when spam-fighting company Spamhaus – a not-for-profit group that aims to help block unwanted junk emails – black-listed Dutch company Cyberbunker earlier this month.
And yesterday experts warned the assault could soon impact on banking and personal email accounts.
Today Egypt’s coastguard caught three divers cutting through an undersea Internet cable on Wednesday, the army said, the first suggestion criminals might be involved in days of severed connections and disruptions online.
A patrol stopped a fishing boat near the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria and arrested three divers, the army spokesman said on his official Facebook page.
He did not give details of the divers’ possible motive in severing the link he said belonged to Egypt Telecom, the country’s monopoly landline provider.
DDOS – A ‘NUCLEAR BOMB’ IN THE ARMOURY OF CYBER ATTACKERS
DDOS – distributed denial of service – is the technical name for cyber attacks that overwhelm computers and make websites disappear.
They are potentially devastating for businesses and their reputations.
The first DDoS attacks occurred in the late 1990s.
They are launched by competitors, extortionists and so-called politically motivated ‘hacktivists’.
A cyber attacker floods a network connection with tens of gigabits of traffic. This creates bottlenecks in firewalls, routers and the connection itself
Then, when the next request for service tries to come or go, the network connection is clogged and communication stops.
Another scenario sees an attacker flood a target with hundreds of thousands of requests per second, then when the server attempts to process them it shuts down.
In recent weeks, the attackers have launched a more sinister and potentially devastating offensive.
They have launched a strike that hits the Internet’s core infrastructure, the Domain Name System, or DNS, which functions like a telephone switchboard.
It translates the names of websites like Facebook.com or Google.com into a string of numbers that the Internet’s technology can understand, with millions of computer servers around the world performing the translation.
Experts say the knock-on effect has the potential of ‘hurting internet services globally’.
Cyberbunker is what is known as a hosting company, meaning it allows organisations to make their websites accessible on the internet by providing space on a server.
The company’s website says it will host anything ‘except child porn and anything related to terrorism’.
Spamhaus, which has offices in London and Geneva, keeps a database of web servers which are known to be used for malicious purposes, such as sending spam mail for bogus products – such as fake weight-loss pills or Viagra – and earlier this month added Cyberbunker.
Spamhaus claims Cyberbunker has launched a huge ‘denial of service’ (DDoS) attack in retaliation by flooding its servers with internet traffic.
This is like jamming a mailbox with hundreds of letters at the same time.
Professor Alan Woodward, a cyber security expert at the University of Surrey, explained: ‘If you imagine it as a motorway, attacks try to put enough traffic on there to clog up the on and off ramps.
‘With this attack, there’s so much traffic it’s clogging up the motorway itself.’
Matthew Prince, chief executive of internet security firm CloudFare, likened the move to a ‘nuclear bomb’, adding: ‘It’s so easy to cause so much damage.’
David Emm, a senior security researcher with anti-virus firm Kaspersky Labs, said the attack was slowing down the whole internet, adding: ‘It’s like if someone wanted to flood my letterbox with junk mail it would all have to go through the delivery office and that would have an effect on the delivery of other people’s letters.
‘If the mail is coming from all over the place it will have some impact on the wider delivery.’
Steve Linford, chief executive of Spamhaus, told the BBC the scale of the attack was unprecedented and powerful enough to bring down the Government’s computer system.
Business and personal mobile banking customers for Natwest, RBS, and Ulster Bank are today experiencing problems accessing online accounts – although it has not yet been confirmed whether this is linked to the attack.
A spokesman for the Royal Bank of Scotland group said they were investigating the issue but it was not understood to be linked to the cyber attack.
They added: ‘We are aware of a technical problem this morning which is preventing customers from logging in to our mobile banking applications.
‘We are working to fix the problem and apologise to customers for the inconvenience caused.
‘No other systems are affected.’
Global impact: Experts say traffic to the Netflix site has been affected by the attack on anti-spam firm SpamHaus
Mr Linford said he could not disclose more details as there were fears those involved may also come under attack.
He added that several companies, such as Google, had made their resources available to help absorb the excess traffic.
Sven Olaf Kamphuis, who claims to be a spokesman for Cyberbunker, said in an online message that Spamhaus was abusing its position and should not be allowed to decide ‘what goes and does not go on the internet’.
He added: ‘We are aware that this is one of the largest DDoS attacks the world had publicly seen.’
Experts say such attacks are growing in power and are now six times larger than recent ones against American banks.
GROWING ONLINE MENACE
Cyber attacks are becoming an increasing threat to large organisations that rely on the internet.
While yesterday’s chaos was the result of a feud between large online firms, those who organise and carry out the attacks are more often amateur computer activists working in their bedrooms.
In January two so-called ‘hacktivists’ were jailed in London for attacks which cost corporate organisations, such as Paypal, Mastercard and Visa, many millions of pounds.
And earlier this month it was revealed that prominent Americans such as Michelle Obama and Tiger Woods were the victims of suspected Russian cyber hackers who allegedly published financial information.
It is unclear whether the alleged attack by Cyberbunker has broken any laws.
A Cyberbunker source said it was retaliating against Spamhaus for ‘abusing their influence’