DDoS attacks threaten free speech, says report
Attacks hammer human rights and dissident media sites, which often don't have the resources to fend off take-downs
Computerworld - Computer attacks launched against sites run by human rights and dissident media groups threaten to knock free speech off the Web, a new report warned this week.
The study conducted by Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet & Society showed that distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks frequently knocked such sites offline.
Of the sites surveyed by the center, 62% were victimized by DDoS attacks in the last 12 months, and 61% experienced unexplained downtime.
DDoS attacks -- the kind pro-WikiLeaks activists fired at companies that withdrew services from the controversial group -- are launched from hundreds, thousands or even tens of thousands of computers simultaneous, or nearly so.
The aim: Flood the servers that host a site with bogus requests, or dupe that server into thinking it's overwhelmed. The result: The site goes black, or is pulled from the Web by its hosting provider to protect other sites from being crippled.
"Human rights and independent media sites are under constant attack," said Ethan Zuckerman, a senior researcher at the Berkman Center and one of the authors of the report, in an interview today. "DDoS attacks make it harder than ever for these groups to keep an online presence."
The Berkman Center dug up media reports of 140 DDoS attacks against more than 280 different human rights and dissident sites in the 12 months between September 2009 and August 2010, likely only a fraction of the actual numbers, said Zuckerman, as many go unreported.
Zuckerman's team also polled more than 300 human rights and independent media sites around the world, and convinced 45, or 14% of the total, to talk about DDoS attacks.
Of the groups that responded, almost two-thirds (62%) had been hit with a DDoS attack in the last year, while slightly fewer (61%) said that their sites had experienced unexplained downtime for their domains.
According to the Berkman Center, there was a "particularly high prevalence" of attacks against sites in Burma, China, Egypt, Israel, Iran, Mexico, Russia, Tunisia, the U.S. and Vietnam, with groups targeted both from within their own borders and from outside their countries.
The center's report highlighted multiple, sustained DDoS attacks against Novaya Gazeta, Russia's most liberal independent newspaper; attacks aimed at a Vietnamese organization protesting bauxite mining in that country; ones launched by the so-called "Iranian Cyber Army" against the Iranian government opposition site mowjcamp.com; and others conducted by a hacker who calls himself "Jester" against sites he said promoted Islamic Jihad.
Late last month, Jester claimed responsibility for an early round of attacks against WikiLeaks that drove the group off its usual servers and onto ones operated by Amazon.
- Major companies, like Target, often fail to act on malware alerts
- The new security perimeter: Human Sensors
- Snowden advocates at SXSW for improved data security
- Joomla receives patches for zero-day SQL injection vulnerability, other flaws
- NSA used 'European bazaar' to spy on EU citizens
- Target CIO resigns following breach
- Evan Schuman: Mobile IT Roach Motel: Data checks in, but it won't check out
- Sears finds no evidence of data breach -- yet
- Gameover malware is tougher to kill with new rootkit component
- Mobile app for RSA Conference exposes personal data
- Best iPhone, iPad Business Apps for 2014
- 14 Tech Conventions You Should Attend in 2014
- 10 Desktop Apps to Power Your Windows PC
- How to Add New Job Skills Without Going Back to School
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- Who's Spying on You? You're aware of the threats of malware to your business but what about the ever-changing ground rules? Cybercriminals today are launching attacks against...
- Gartner 2013 Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Backup/Recovery Software See why CommVault was positioned as the #1 leader in Gartner's 2013 Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Backup/Recovery software for the 3rd year in...
- Forrester Report: CommVault is a Leader in Enterprise Backup and Recovery In this report, Forrester takes a deep dive into the evaluation criteria, how CommVault is positioned and the features and functionality that make...
- Forrester Wave for Enterprise Backup and Recovery Read this report to see how CommVault continues to outpace its competitors and why Forrester positioned CommVault Simpana as the top backup and...
- Four Myths of High-Productivity App Dev Debunked Debunk the main myths surrounding high-productivity application development and how both platforms have overcome them.
On-Demand Webcast: 7 Reasons to Choose VoIP
Thinking about a new phone system for your business?
Be sure to watch this informative webcast. Steve Strauss, small business columnist for USA...
All Cybercrime and Hacking White Papers |