TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: How to Shut Down the Net

How to Shut Down the Net

Ted Bridis, Associated Press (
Tue, 06 Feb 2007 23:26:13 -0600

Hackers attack key Net traffic computers

By TED BRIDIS, Associated Press Writer

Hackers briefly overwhelmed at least three of the 13 computers that
help manage global computer traffic Tuesday in one of the most
significant attacks against the Internet since 2002.

Experts said the unusually powerful attacks lasted as long as 12 hours
but passed largely unnoticed by most computer users, a testament to
the resiliency of the Internet. Behind the scenes, computer scientists
worldwide raced to cope with enormous volumes of data that threatened
to saturate some of the Internet's most vital pipelines.

The Homeland Security Department confirmed it was monitoring what it
called "anomalous" Internet traffic.

"There is no credible intelligence to suggest an imminent threat to
the homeland or our computing systems at this time," the department
said in a statement.

The motive for the attacks was unclear, said Duane Wessels, a
researcher at the Cooperative Association for Internet Data Analysis
at the San Diego Supercomputing Center. "Maybe to show off or just be
disruptive; it doesn't seem to be extortion or anything like that,"
Wessels said.

Other experts said the hackers appeared to disguise their origin, but
vast amounts of rogue data in the attacks were traced to South Korea.

The attacks appeared to target UltraDNS, the company that operates
servers managing traffic for Web sites ending in "org" and some other
suffixes, experts said. Officials with NeuStar Inc., which owns
UltraDNS, confirmed only that it had observed an unusual increase in

Among the targeted "root" servers that manage global Internet traffic
were ones operated by the Defense Department and the Internet's
primary oversight body.

"There was what appears to be some form of attack during the night
hours here in California and into the morning," said John Crain, chief
technical officer for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and
Numbers. He said the attack was continuing and so was the hunt for its

"I don't think anybody has the full picture," Crain said. "We're
looking at the data."

Crain said Tuesday's attack was less serious than attacks against the
same 13 "root" servers in October 2002 because technology innovations
in recent years have increasingly distributed their workloads to other
computers around the globe.

AP Internet Writer Anick Jesdanun contributed to this report from New York.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press.

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