Cyberattack

Cyberattack / Featured Blogs

Revision3 and Media Defender

Lots of coverage in the last two days about a Memorial Day weekend attack that took down the servers of Revision3, an Internet video network. This story has a lot of ingredients -- P2P maneuvering, DDoS attack, copyright vs. piracy, talk of laws broken and the FBI investigating.  more

An Account of the Estonian Internet War

About a year ago after coming back from Estonia, I promised I'd send in an account of the Estonian "war". A few months ago I wrote an article for the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, covering the story of what happened there. This is the "war" that made politicians aware of cyber security and entire countries scared, NATO to "respond" and the US to send in "help". It deserved a better understanding for that alone, whatever actually happened there. more

Do We Need Two Internets?

Jonathan Zittrain's recent book, The Future of the Internet -- And How to Stop It, has spurred a lot of discussion both online and offline, with blog posts lauding his insights or criticising his over-apocalyptic imagination. The book itself makes fascinating reading for those who have watched the network grow from its roots in the research community into today's global channel for communications, commerce and cultural expression... One of the reasons that Zittrain puts forward for the growing popularity of closed or, as he prefers 'tethered', devices, is that they are less vulnerable to hacking, security flaws, malware and all the other perils that face any internet-enabled system. more

Are Botnets Run by Spy Agencies?

A recent story today about discussions for an official defense Botnet in the USA prompted me to post a question I've been asking for the last year. Are some of the world's botnets secretly run by intelligence agencies, and if not, why not? Some estimates suggest that up to 1/3 of PCs are secretly part of a botnet. The main use of botnets is sending spam, but they are also used for DDOS extortion attacks and presumably other nasty things like identity theft. But consider this... more

CNN.Com, Politically Motivated DDoS, and Asymmetric Warfare

Once again I find myself thinking about the nature of the asymmetric warfare threat posed by politically motivated DDoS (Estonia in 07, Korea in 02, and now China vs. CNN in 08). I keep thinking about it in terms of asymmetric warfare, a class of warfare where one side is a traditional, centrally managed military with superior uniformed numbers, weaponry, and skill. On the other we have smaller numbers, usually untrained fighters with meager weapons, and usually a smaller force. Historical examples include the North Vietnamese in the 20th century and even the American Revolution in the 18th century. Clearly this can be an effective strategy for a band of irregulars... more

The Future of Cyber Warfare

Every now and then I get emails from readers of my blog. I mostly reply to them in private, but I recently got one question where I thought my reply might be of general interest. I took the liberty of editing the question somewhat, but in essence it was: "If you have any insight you can share with my class on cyber warfare and security, I would be delighted on hearing it." In general, I think that it's an obvious conclusion that both offensive and defensive actions with regard to national telecommunications infrastructure is becoming an integral part of a nations security assessments.... more

DNSSEC: Once More, With Feeling!

After looking at the state of DNSSEC in some detail a little over a year ago in 2006, I've been intending to come back to DNSSEC to see if anything has changed, for better or worse, in the intervening period... To recap, DNSSEC is an approach to adding some "security" into the DNS. The underlying motivation here is that the DNS represents a rather obvious gaping hole in the overall security picture of the Internet, although it is by no means the only rather significant vulnerability in the entire system. One of the more effective methods of a convert attack in this space is to attack at the level of the DNS by inserting fake responses in place of the actual DNS response. more

Where are DNS Root Servers? See them on Google Maps

DNS root servers function as part of the Internet backbone, as explained in Wikipedia, and have come under attack a number of times in the past -- although none of the attacks have ever been serious enough to severely hamper the performance of the Internet. In response to some of the common misconceptions about the physical location and total number of DNS root servers in the world, Patrik Faltstrom has put together a visual map on Google, pin-pointing the approximate location of each server around the world. more

The Case Against DNSSEC

I was talking to my good friend Verner Entwhistle the other day when he suddenly turned to me and said "I don't think we need DNSSEC". Sharp intake of breath. Transpired after a long and involved discussion his case boiled down to four points: 1. SSL provides known and trusted security, DNSSEC is superfluous, 2. DNSSEC is complex and potentially prone to errors, 3. DNSSEC makes DoS attacks worse, 4. DNSSEC does not solve the last mile problem. Let's take them one at a time... more

Defending Networks Against DNS Rebinding Attacks

DNS rebinding attacks are real and can be carried out in the real world. They can penetrate through browsers, Java, Flash, Adobe and can have serious implications for Web 2.0-type applications that pack more code and action onto the client. Such an attack can convert browsers into open network proxies and get around firewalls to access internal documents and services. It requires less than $100 to temporarily hijack 100,000 IP addresses for sending spam and defrauding pay-per-click advertisers. Everyone is at risk and relying on network firewalls is simply not enough. In a paper released by Stanford Security Lab, "Protecting Browsers from DNS Rebinding Attacks," authors Collin Jackson, Adam Barth, Andrew Bortz, Weidong Shao, and Dan Boneh provide ample detail about the nature of this attack as well as strong defenses that can be put in place in order to help protect modern browsers. more