Internet Slow? The Techno Nuclear War Is the Reason


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Spamhaus blacklists servers that typically send spam – now the spammers are fighting back. Image by mikecogh

Have you noticed that websites are taking longer to load? Maybe you’re struggling to watch a video on YouTube or Netflix. These are usually caused by slow network connections, but this time, it’s all due to the largest global attack seen since the Internet was invented! (And no, Al Gore did not invent the Internet.) The attacks started on March 18, 2013 and are still ongoing, so get used to delays – it’s tough to track these attacks.

Spamhaus Fights Off DDoS Attacks

Spamhaus is a European non-profit organisation – it creates a list of all the servers used by spammers online to help email systems add those IP addresses, and thereby filter the spam email for the convenience of email users.

It is unclear who is behind the attack, but many are blaming the Dutch company Cyberbunker – a group which has had their servers placed on the spam blacklist, even though they state that they never send spam – the slowdown is the latest battle in the Internet war between the two companies. Interestingly, Cyberbunker is also fighting a denial of service attack, according to InformationWeek.

Spamhaus does not just blacklist anyone – if they did, people would stop receiving the mail that they want, and would stop using their service. The organisation wants to make sure it offers the best service for users, and Matthew Prince, CEO of Cloudflare, believes that 80% of spam is filtered thanks to this non-profit organisation!

Spamhaus is currently fighting off a series of DDoS (Distributed Denial-of-Service) attacks, which temporarily cause the website to go offline and the servers to crash. “Spoof” requests were sent to various domain name servers, which were then directed back to the organisation. These caused a spike in traffic on the name servers, slowing down the Internet for everyone.

What Is a DDoS Attack?

A Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attack happens in various ways, including through the sending of a virus, by adding a Trojan virus to software or by flooding networks so that a server cannot handle it. The latter is how Spamhaus has been attacked, and it has meant that they are unable to offer their service of blacklisting IPs and domain names.

On their own website, Spamhaus confirm that the “data systems continued to work normally throughout the attack” and that the main website is now back up and running. As of March 28, 2013, all systems were back to normal.

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