A fight has broken out in cyberspace between a spam-fighting group called SpamHaus and a Dutch hosting service called Cyberbunker—and the escalating attacks are slowing down the entire Internet. The massive scale of the attack is being called unprecedented.
John Markoff and Nicole Perlroth with The New York Times reported, “A squabble between a group fighting spam and a Dutch company that hosts Web sites said to be sending spam has escalated into one of the largest computer attacks on the Internet, causing widespread congestion and jamming crucial infrastructure around the world. Millions of ordinary Internet users have experienced delays in services like Netflix or could not reach a particular Web site for a short time. However, for the Internet engineers who run the global network the problem is more worrisome. The attacks are becoming increasingly powerful, and computer security experts worry that if they continue to escalate people may not be able to reach basic Internet services, like e-mail and online banking.”
Mashable’s Alex Fitzpatrick explained, “The attack — which some experts are calling the biggest in history — is aimed at Spamhaus, a anti-spam company based in Geneva and London that flags websites it considers bogus. Spamhaus sells its blacklists to Internet Service Providers, which often blocks the hosts flagged therein. According to experts, it’s estimated to be responsible for blocking up to 80% of the global e-mail spam. Spamhaus found itself at the business end of a colossal and specialized Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) onslaught soon after it recently added Cyberbunker, an online hosting service offering storage space to anything ‘except child porn and anything related to terrorism,’ to its blacklists, labeling it a spammer’s haven — a characterization Cyberbunker rejects.”
According to the BBC, “Steve Linford, chief executive for Spamhaus, told the BBC the scale of the attack was unprecedented. ‘We’ve been under this cyber-attack for well over a week. ‘But we’re up – they haven’t been able to knock us down. Our engineers are doing an immense job in keeping it up – this sort of attack would take down pretty much anything else.'”
The BBC also quoted Linford as saying, “If you aimed this at Downing Street they would be down instantly. They would be completely off the internet. These attacks are peaking at 300 gb/s (gigabits per second). Normally when there are attacks against major banks, we’re talking about 50 gb/s.”
CNET’s Don Reisinger added, “For its part, Cyberbunker has not confirmed that it’s behind the attacks, but Spamhaus believes that it is. Spamhaus has also alleged that ‘criminal gangs’ from Eastern Europe and Russia are also participating in the attacks.”