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#GJNEWS: Internet around the world slows after'biggest attack in history'


The internet around the world has been slowed down in what security experts are describing as the biggest cyber-attack of its kind in history. A row between a spam-fighting group and hosting firm has sparked retaliation attacks affecting the wider internet. It is having an impact on popular services like Netflix - and experts worry it could escalate to affect banking and email systems. Five national cyber-police-forces are
investigating the attacks. Spamhaus, a group based in both London and Geneva, is a non-profit organisation that aims to help email providers filter out spam and other unwanted content. To do this, the group maintains a number of blocklists - a database of servers known to be being used for malicious purposes. Recently, Spamhaus blocked servers maintained by Cyberbunker, a Dutch web host
that states it will host anything with the
exception of child pornography or terrorism-
related material.
Sven Olaf Kamphuis, who claims to be a
spokesman for Cyberbunker, said, in a
message, that Spamhaus was abusing its
position, and should not be allowed to decide
"what goes and does not go on the internet".
Spamhaus has alleged that Cyberbunker, in
cooperation with "criminal gangs" from
Eastern Europe and Russia, is behind the
attack.
Cyberbunker has not responded to the BBC's
request for comment.
'Immense job'
Steve Linford, chief executive for Spamhaus,
told the BBC the scale of the attack was
unprecedented.
"We've been under this cyber-attack for well
over a week.
"But we're up - they haven't been able to
knock us down. Our engineers are doing an
immense job in keeping it up - this sort of
attack would take down pretty much anything
else."
Mr Linford told the BBC that the attack was
being investigated by five different national
cyber-police-forces around the world.
He claimed he was unable to disclose more
details because the forces were concerned
that they too may suffer attacks on their own
infrastructure.
The attackers have used a tactic known as
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS), which
floods the intended target with large
amounts of traffic in an attempt to render it
unreachable.
In this case, Spamhaus's Domain Name
System (DNS) servers were targeted - the
infrastructure that joins domain names, such
as bbc.co.uk, the website's numerical internet
protocol address.
Mr Linford said the attack's power would be
strong enough to take down government
internet infrastructure.
"If you aimed this at Downing Street they
would be down instantly," he said. "They
would be completely off the internet."
He added: "These attacks are peaking at 300
Gbps (gigabits per second).
"Normally when there are attacks against
major banks, we're talking about 50 Gbps"
Clogged-up motorway
The knock-on effect is hurting internet
services globally, said Prof Alan Woodward, a
cybersecurity expert at the University of
Surrey.
"If you imagine it as a motorway, attacks try
and put enough traffic on there to clog up the
on and off ramps," he told the BBC.
"With this attack, there's so much traffic it's
clogging up the motorway itself."
Arbor Networks, a firm which specialises in
protecting against DDoS attacks, also said it
was the biggest such attack they had seen.
"The largest DDoS attack that we have
witnessed prior to this was in 2010, which
was 100 Gbps. Obviously the jump from 100
to 300 is pretty massive," said Dan Holden,
the company's director of security research.
"There's certainly possibility for some
collateral damage to other services along the
way, depending on what that infrastructure
looks like."
Spamhaus said it was able to cope as it has
highly distributed infrastructure in a number
of countries.
The group is supported by many of the
world's largest internet companies who rely
on it to filter unwanted material.
Mr Linford told the BBC that several
companies, such as Google, had made their
resources available to help "absorb all of this
traffic".
The attacks typically happened in intermittent
bursts of high activity.
"They are targeting every part of the internet
infrastructure that they feel can be brought
down," Mr Linford said.
"Spamhaus has more than 80 servers around
the world. We've built the biggest DNS server
arog

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