Attack of the Bots

Check out the great article in the wired magazine, regarding the power and menace of the bots and their controllers:

AT FIRST, IT LOOKED LIKE typical network congestion. So the system administrators weren’t too concerned when TypePad blogs and LiveJournal social networks flickered like a light bulb in a faulty socket. But 15 minutes later, at 4 pm on May 2, 2006, the sites went dark, and so did the mood at Six Apart, the company that owns them. In the blink of an eye, 10 million blogs and online communities disappeared. “It looked like the servers had freaked out,” CEO Barak Berkowitz recalls. Flash floods of data thundered into one network port, stopped inexplicably, then reappeared to overwhelm another. The engineers pored over logs, desperately looking for a cause. After an agonizing hunt, they found it: a distributed denial-of-service attack, or DDoS. Six Apart’s servers had been inundated with so many requests that the machines couldn’t possibly process them all. It was the digital equivalent of filling a fish tank with a fire hose.

“After learning about bots, you might think, ‘I feel hopelessly outgunned and outmatched,'” says Peter Tippett, CTO of security consultancy Cybertrust. “You are.”

Its a fascinating look into how paid organized attacks are used to extract money or even shut down companies…It is still wild wild west in some areas of the Internet and without the limitations of the geography, its hard to see how we will be able to get a handle on these issues. This is going to be a big challenge.

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