Magazine article Security Management

New Denial of Service Attack

Magazine article Security Management

New Denial of Service Attack

Article excerpt

When online toy seller eToys.com attempted to prevent a Swiss art firm from using the Web site etoy.com by bringing a lawsuit, so-called hacktivists-believing it a move based on greed and censorship--sent out a call to arms. Respondents displayed the prowess of a new form of denial of service attacks, called distributed denial of service attacks (DDOS). DDOS allow a single attacker to use several computers to attack a target.

As with all denial of service attacks, the objective of a DDOS is to overload a server with so many requests that it goes down. Until recently, attackers were restricted to launching attacks from a single point. With DDOS, an attacker can hack into thousands of sites, install the flooding software, and then push a button to coordinate all those sites to send requests at the same time. When a group of attackers band together to launch a DDOS attack, the results can be devastating.

According to reports, eToys.com fared well while under attack, losing only about 2 percent of its availability, in part due to its high bandwidth capabilities. But not all companies have the bandwidth of a worldwide e-commerce site, and they could be crippled under this type of attack.

The International Computer Security Association ranks DDOS attacks as an important new threat that security managers should keep on their radar screens. The software products used to execute these types of attacks are Tribe FloodNet 2K (TFN2K is an upgraded version of the previous single-point DOS software) and Trinoo. Both spoof IP addresses to make it difficult to detect the origin of the attack, and TFN2K can forge packets that appear to come from legitimate neighboring machines. …

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