Did you notice your website was responding slower than usual this week? If so, the chances are you weren’t alone, as it was reported that many sites were impacted by what has been described as the biggest cyber attack in history.
It began due to a dispute between a hosting firm said to be facilitating spam emails and a site seeking to combat junk messages, which escalated into a huge Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack that affected sites far beyond the intended target.
Straining the web
In fact, it was so large that security firm CloudFlare, which was contacted by antispam group spamhaus to help them mitigate the attack, claimed in a blog post that the scale was so large that it “almost broke the internet”.
It was claimed that millions of ordinary internet users experienced delays in services as a result, while major providers such as Netflix were also alleged to have experienced service interruption.
However, while there’s no doubt the attack was huge and one of the most wide-ranging attacks ever, some analysts did questions some of the more dramatic claims spread by some news organisations.
VentureBeat noted that while there was some clear disruption, it was far from global. In fact, the worst of the disruption was contained to countries in western Europe where the spat between the hosting firm and spamhaus originated. The UK, Netherlands and Germany were said to be worst affected countries, with speeds down by 5-10%.
Illustration of dangers
But even if the attack wasn’t as widespread as claimed, it just goes to show how DDoS attacks are becoming an increasing problem from the internet and, with the amount of traffic growing all the time, such incidents may be seen more regularly in the future, so businesses and website owners need to make sure they have robust solutions to mitigate their risk.
The attack has been taken very seriously, with police forces in five countries said to be investigating, so it could be the wake-up call the industry needs to improve its systems.