NEW: The FBI is involved in the investigation into the cyberattack, a spokesman says
A massive cyberattack is creating ripple effects for Internet users around the globe
The prolonged denial-of-service assault is targeting Spamhaus, a European spam-fighting group
Security expert: "These things are essentially like nuclear bombs"
Internet users around the globe are facing slowed-down service, thanks to what’s being called the biggest cyberattack in history.
The prolonged denial-of-service assault is targeting The Spamhaus Project, a European spam-fighting group that has gone after CyberBunker, a data-storage company that offers to host any content “except child porn and anything related to terrorism.”
The organization has been in a long-running feud with CyberBunker and claims spammers use it as a host from which to spray junk mail across the Web.
Internet security firm CloudFlare said Spamhaus contacted it last week, saying it had been hit with an attack big enough to knock its site offline.
Security experts say the attack uses more sophisticated techniques than most DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks and targets the Web’s infrastructure, which has led to other sites performing slowly.
“It’s the biggest attack we’ve seen,” Matthew Prince, CloudFlare’s CEO, told CNN.
The FBI is involved in the investigation into the cyberattack on Spamhaus, though a bureau spokesman didn’t provide any details on the FBI’s role or the scope of the probe.
The Spamhaus Project is a nonprofit organization that patrols the Internet for spammers and publishes a list of Web servers those spammers use. According to Prince, the group may be responsible for up to 80% of all spam that gets blocked. This month, the group added CyberBunker to its blacklist.
“While we don’t know who was behind this attack, Spamhaus has made plenty of enemies over the years,” Prince wrote in a blog post. “Spammers aren’t always the most lovable of individuals, and Spamhaus has been threatened, sued and DDoSed regularly.”
In a DDoS attack, computers flood a website with requests, overwhelming its servers and causing it to crash or become inaccessible for many users.
One way to defend against those attacks, Prince said, is to deflect some of the traffic targeted at a single server onto a bunch of other servers at different locations. That’s what happened in this case, and why Web users experienced some slowdowns on other sites.
He told CNN the last big wave of the attack hit Tuesday morning, but that he doesn’t “live under the illusion” that there won’t be more.
For its part, CyberBunker isn’t taking credit for the attack. But the Dutch company, housed in a former NATO nuclear bunker, isn’t shying away, either.