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#Cyber Attack

# cyber-attack - Tuesday 21 June, 2011

19-year-old Essex man arrested over CIA and Senate hacking

An English teen is suspected of being involved in the ‘LulzSec’ hacking movement, which denies any involvement.

# cyber-attack - Tuesday 14 June, 2011

US Senate website taken out by 'Lulz' hackers

A security review is ordered after the Senate’s website is compromised by the loosely-aligned Lulz Security group.

# cyber-attack - Monday 13 June, 2011

The 9 at 9: Monday 9 At 9 This post contains videos

The 9 at 9: Monday

Nine things to know this morning, including: Irishman wins ten-day Ironman challenge; foreign government may have attacked IMF computers; and energy prices set to rise by 2012.

IMF hack attack 'the work of a foreign government'

The theft of data from the International Monetary Fund’s computer systems was ‘state-based’, Bloomberg sources believe.

# cyber-attack - Sunday 12 June, 2011

IMF computer systems attacked but extent of damage not known

Attack described as a “very major breach” occurred sometime in the last several months, but the IMF hasn’t revealed the scope of the attack.

The 9 at 9: Sunday

Nine things to know this morning…

# cyber-attack - Friday 10 June, 2011

Three alleged Sony hackers arrested in Spain

The men are thought to be part of the international group of hackers who call themselves ‘Anonymous’ – alleged to be behind attacks on Sony’s PlayStation network.

# cyber-attack - Friday 3 June, 2011

Operation Cupcake: Britain's MI6 switches al-Qaeda bomb plans with recipes

Magazine’s instructions for how to create bombs using household items were swapped with some of the Best Cupcakes in America.

# cyber-attack - Thursday 2 June, 2011

China refutes Google's claims that Gmail attacks originated in Jinan

Chinese state media says Google “arbitrarily pointing the finger at China” for a second time, after the internet company warned users it had detected a Gmail account hacking scame.

Google uncovers Gmail security attack aimed at tricking users into sharing passwords

Internet company says personal Gmail accounts belonging to US government officials, journalists and Chinese political activists are among the hundreds affected.

# cyber-attack - Sunday 29 May, 2011

Major US defence contractor Lockheed Martin struck by cyber attack

Lockheed Martin, which produces weapons and defence systems for the US armed forces, says it has been hacked but no programme data was compromised.

# cyber-attack - Wednesday 18 May, 2011

Sony defends reaction to security breach

Sony boss says the electronics giant acted quickly in notifying customers after a cyber attack affecting almost 100 million customers.

# cyber-attack - Monday 7 March, 2011

French finance ministry hit by coordinated G20 hack

Around 150 computers within the government department redirected information to Chinese sites in December.

# cyber-attack - Thursday 27 January, 2011

Take 5: Thursday

5 minutes, 5 stories, 5 o’clock.

# cyber-attack - Thursday 4 November, 2010

Burma crippled by internet attack ahead of election

Days before the first elections in 20 years the entire country has been taken offline.

# cyber-attack - Monday 23 August, 2010

THE COLLEGE APPLICATIONS OFFICE (CAO) website has been inaccessible since mid-morning, leaving many potential college-goers in the dark as to whether they have been offered a place in third-level education.

But what exactly is going on to the website? What is this “malicious attack from an unknown source“?

Well, reports seem to indicate that the website is suffering from a ‘Distributed Denial of Service’ attack, or DDoS for short. Essentially, this exploits the limited amount of traffic that any web server can handle.

Let’s say, hypothetically, that the computer on which a website lives can handle 100 visitors at a time. This means that only 100 individual users would be able to access a page at once, so if 101 people all simultaneously tried to access the website’s homepage, one of them would be unable to connect to the site – it would simply be unable to respond to all of the requests.

The internet’s answer to overcrowding

In fact, the other 100 users might notice a significant slowdown in the speed of the website, such is the effect. In some cases, the website would seem to entirely lock down. It’s the online equivalent of overcrowding: if a room can fit 100 people, then if more show up, not only can they not get in, but the people in there can’t get out.

Try to imagine a large-scale version of this. If the CAO website can handle – again, taking a figure entirely hypothetically – 3,000 users at a time, then any visitors on top of this simply cannot be catered for. And, naturally enough, the website will slow down – or grind to a total halt – if more people try to visit.

What a DDoS attack does, to be basic, is deliberately flood a target website with requests for pages, to the point where the server is unable to respond to any requests, good or otherwise. Typically the people behind such an attack will use several machines to launch it, so that blocking the traffic from one computer’s individual IP address does not resolve the crisis. It’s possible that some of the machines being used are being hijacked without the knowledge or compliance of their owners.

In essence, unless a website has bucketloads of spare capacity (in which case, it should probably be using some of it all the time anyway) that it can activate, then the sheer volume of requests being received will cause the website to effectively keel over. And, in some cases, adding new capacity will not resolve the problem, because the attackers could alternatively find new machines to launch even more sustained attacks.

When it happens – and when it doesn’t

Major international websites – the likes of Facebook – will receive multiple DDoS attacks a day. They’re simply big enough, however, to absorb the extra hassle without any noticeable slow-down. Even the likes of has said it gets regular attacks, but constantly monitors and counters them as they arise.

The problem with the CAO site, it would seem, is that it’s not generally built to handle quite the level of traffic it’s getting this morning – the bulk of it, you might guess, being maliciously sent.

Therefore the only real tactic a website can use to resolve a DDoS is to try and identify the IP addresses from which the traffic is coming, and then block these addresses from submitting any requests – freeing up space for the genuine web users. The CAO appears to have resolved its problems, however, and looks to be back up and running – a welcome return to action for the 77,628 students hoping for a college offer today.

In the meantime, potential college-goers are reminded that if they’ve been offered a college place, they should also have received a copy of the order via the post – and can also respond to the offer by post.

Those who can’t access their physical post need not worry, either: first round offers can be accepted any time up until next Monday, before offers are withdrawn and reallocated in the Round 2 offers.