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The internet around the world has been slowed down in what security experts are describing as the biggest cyber-attack in history, reports the BBC. Five national cyber-police-forces are investigating the attacks. Millions of ordinary Internet users have experienced delays in services like Netflix or could not reach a particular Web site for a short time, reports the NY Times.

The so-called distributed denial of service, or DDoS, attacks have reached previously unknown magnitudes, growing to a data stream of 300 billion bits per second.

“It is the largest publicly announced DDoS attack in the history of the Internet,” said Patrick Gilmore, chief architect at Akamai Technologies

Spamhaus, a group based in both London and Geneva, is a non-profit organisation, maintains a number of blocklists – a database of servers known to be being used for malicious purposes.

Steve Linford, chief executive for Spamhaus, told the BBC the scale of the attack was unprecedented. Spamhaus has alleged that Cyberbunker, in cooperation with “criminal gangs” from Eastern Europe and Russia, is behind the attack.

Meanwhile, the South East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe 4 (SEA-ME-WE 4) cable has been cut, causing a slowdown in and around Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia. The cut was said to be near Alexandria in Egypt.

According to Egyptian military spokesman, three men were arrested attempting to cut the cable from a fishing boat located approximately 820 yards from Alexandria. The attackers’ motivation for the attack is unknown.

Internet service in Egypt had already been off since 22 March, supposedly because a passing ship damaged a separate cable. The trio took to the water a day before repairs to the other cable were expected to be completed and service restored. The effects of the cable cut were experienced as far away as Pakistan and India.

Telegeography says while there are more than 100 reported submarine cable faults each year, most damage goes unnoticed by end users as carriers can usually route traffic around outages on other systems, both submarine and terrestrial.

SeaMeWe-4 accounts for one-third of all lit capacity between Europe and Egypt, although the cable is just one of eight undersea systems connecting Europe to Egypt.

A deliberate attack is unusual. Tata Communications administers the network.

It’s believed that the USS Jimmy Carter can tap optical cables. It has additional maneuvering devices fitted fore and aft that will allow her to keep station in odd currents.

It can carry the Advanced SEAL Delivery System, but splicing optical cable while avoiding detection might be tricky.

SEACOM was been asked if sabotage may have been the cause of the 22 March cuts to their African fiber system. Their cable connects South Africa and Eastern Africa with Europe and Southern Asia.

“We think it is unlikely that the damage to our system was caused by sabotage. The reasons for this are the specific location, distance from shore, much greater depth, the presence of a large anchored vessel on the fault site which appears to be the cause of the damage and other characteristics of the event”, said the company on its website.

Internet services in Egypt are expected to be fully restored within the next 20 hours, according to Communications Minister Atef Helmy in an interview with Turkish agency Anadolu.

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