Technology March 27, 2013
The Biggest Cyber Attack In History Slows Internet Around The World

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We hope you're able to read this story. If you can't, here's why.

It's because of a huge cyber attack, said to be the biggest of its kind in history. And security experts say it's affected the wider internet.

According to reports, the attack stems from a fight between an anti-spam group and a Dutch web host.

The anti-spam group is called Spamhaus - a non-profit organization that helps email providers filter out spam by creating "a real-time blacklist of servers they believe are used to send out spam email," the International Business Times reports.

The Dutch web host is called Cyberbunker, which says it will host services to any Web site "except child porn and anything related to terrorism".

Recently, Spamhaus blocked servers operated by Cyberbunker.

Cyberbunker didn't like that, and essentially told Spamhaus - stay out of our business.

In a message left with the BBC, a Cyberbunker spokesperson said Spamhaus doesn't have the right to decide "what goes and does not go on the internet".

Spamhaus has accused Cyberbunker of working with "criminal gangs" from Eastern Europe and Russia to launch the attack.

According to the New York Times, a Cyberbunker spokesperson said "We are aware that this is one of the largest... attacks the world had publicly seen."

He went on to say Cyberbunker was retaliating against Spamhaus for "abusing their influence."

Reports say the attackers have used networks of infected computers to send large amounts of traffic to the Spamhaus website, to try to overload it and knock it offline.

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Steve Linford, chief executive for Spamhaus, told the BBC "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."

"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," he said.

Spamhaus works with some of the world's largest internet companies who rely on it to block unwanted messages and material.

Linford told the BBC that several companies, such as Google, have helped "absorb all of this traffic".

As the IB Times reports, "it is estimated that Spamhaus is directly or indirectly responsible for filtering out as much as 80 percent of daily spam messages."

In fact, the IB Times says Spamhaus is so important that "in 2011, when a lawsuit threatened to shut it down, industry experts testified that doing so risked breaking the email infrastructure as we know it."

Apparently, five different national cyber-police forces around the world are investigating the attack.

The BBC also reports "it is having an impact on popular services like Netflix - and experts worry it could escalate to affect banking and email systems."

Professor Alan Woodward, a cybersecurity expert at the University of Surrey in the UK, described it this way...

"If you imagine it as a motorway, attacks try and put enough traffic on there to clog up the on and off ramps," he said. "With this attack, there's so much traffic it's clogging up the motorway itself."

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