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Distributed Denial of Service attacks « Previous | |Next »
January 10, 2005

Hosting Matters, my hosting company, has been the subject of two Distributed Denial of Service attacks.

At its most basic level, a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack overwhelms the target system with data, such that the response from the the hosting company is either slowed or stopped altogether. A distributed DoS attack occurs when a hacker hijacks machines across the Internet and uses them to send a flood of requests to Hosting Matters server.

The result is that valid traffic, unable to compete with the malicious flood, has little chance of obtaining useful service. Eventually Hosting Matters becomes overwhelmed and stops functioning for several hours at a time (8 hours on Saturday and 4 on Monday).

In order to create the necessary amount of traffic, a network of zombie or bot computers is often used.
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Zombies or botnets are computers that have been compromised by attackers, generally through the use of Trojans, allowing these compromised systems to be remotely controlled. Collectively, these systems are manipulated to create the high traffic flow necessary to create a DDoS attack.

The nature of the attack is such that it is very difficult to stop and next to impossible to prevent single-handedly.The core problem is the existence of the compromised computers used to create the attack.
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The computers used in the attacks are compromised several ways including remote attacks on vulnerable, defective software and taking advantage of computers whose owners have loaded remotely controllable software such as remote control trojans and IRC bots. Many of the systems are compromised because patches for software defects that were reported and fixed months ago are never installed, because anti-virus tools are not kept up to date, and because the computer owners give away control of their computers by indiscriminately running unknown programs.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 5:17 PM | | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (1)
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