Virtual1 (en-GB)

The Internet hates you


James Hickman - CTO at Virtual1

The Internet hates you. Or at least somebody does. One person. That is all it takes to deny your Internet access for a few hours. The days of a lone hackers pending laborious hours searching out flaws in your website are not over, but it is much more likely that if somebody takes a dislike to you, they will simply throw lots of traffic at your site and overload it, preventing other people seeing it. This is a classic “Denial of Service” attack.

Denial of Service is effective and relatively easy to undertake. The problem for the attack is that it is easy for them to be spotted because they are the one sending you traffic. So instead they get somebody else to send it on their behalf. And whilst they are doing that, they get a few others to do it to. From lots of places. All at once. This is a Distributed Denial of Service attack or DDoS.

DDoS is difficult to prevent because you can’t just tell your firewall or provider to block traffic from the attacker – the attacker is lots of people. You usually have to tweak some timers and either sit it out or shut things down for a while until it subsides.

So who let’s themselves be used to contribute towards an attack? Well to be honestit is people like you. Look around your network and you’ll see printers and webcams and IP phones and routers and all sorts of things. Increasingly now, attackers are using these seemingly innocent devices to create these attacks. And the thing that makes it easy for them is the fact that most people never change the default password, never update the firmware and always leave them turned on. It can be hard to spot when you are compromised, and you have left an open door for the hackers.

Does that sound like you? Maybe spend an afternoon checking your devices are not being compromised.