Hackers slow Internet root servers with attack

Attackers briefly slowed down service on at least two of the Internet's root servers

Online attackers have briefly disrupted service on at least two of the 13 "root" servers that are used to direct traffic on the Internet.

The attack, which began Tuesday at about 5:30 a.m. US Eastern time, was the most significant attack against the root servers since an October 2002 distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack, said Ben Petro, senior vice president of services with Internet service provider Neustar. Root servers manage the Internet's Domain Name System (DNS), used to translate Web addresses such as Amazon.com into the numerical Internet Protocol addresses used by machines.

The attack appeared to have been launched by a group of compromised PCs, called a botnet, Petro said.

"Two of the root servers suffered badly, although they did not completely crash; some of the others also saw heavy traffic," said John Crain, chief technical officer with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), in an e-mail interview

The two hardest-hit servers are maintained by the U.S. Department of Defense and ICANN, he added.

The botnet briefly overwhelmed these servers with useless requests, causing them to occasionally hang, but did not disrupt Internet service, Petro said. By 10:30 a.m., Internet service providers were able to filter enough of the traffic from the botnet machines that traffic to and from the root servers was essentially back to normal.

Compared to other DDOS attacks, this one did not have a lot of firepower. Petro said the bandwidth of the attack could be measured in megabytes, as opposed to the gigabyte-level attacks that are now frequently seen. "It was a small attack, but it was focused and targeted at the roots," he said.

It is unclear where the attack originated, Crain said. "The effect of this traffic on the end users was negligible," he added.

Petro said engineers are still "scratching their heads" about the reason for the attack. Although some DDOS attacks are launched for political reasons or to extort money from Web site owners, this one appeared to have no such purpose, he said.

Crain ventured a guess as to the attack's effect, however. "I suspect that the largest effect of the DNS traffic was to deprive some engineers of sleep and generate press," he wrote.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Robert McMillan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?