Have you had trouble accessing sites like Feedly and Evernote? Well, you can thank an annoying onslaught of DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks for that.
Not to be confused with a hacking attempt, DDoS attacks, simply put, are when a wide-range group of attackers flood servers of a targeted website with so much traffic that legitimate users are denied access.
In these cyber threats, no one is hacking into the site to steal data. It’s merely a way for these attackers to prevent a website from functioning, at times demanding money in exchange to let the site operate again.
[youtube width=”560″ height=”315″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NogCN78XN2w[/youtube]
In the case of the news aggregator application, Feedly, this is exactly what’s happening. According to a post on their blog today, Feedly stated that “The attacker is trying to extort us money to make it stop. We refused to give in and are working with our network providers to mitigate the attack as best as we can.”
A few hours later, Feedly updated that it is making changes to the infrastructure that will take some time to implement. They assured that user’s data has not been compromised.
The note-taking service, Evernote, however, is now running again, but according to a tweet from the company’s official account earlier today, “there may be a hiccup or two for the next 24 hours.”
Evernote is up and running. There may be a hiccup or two for the next 24 hours. We appreciate your patience.
— evernote (@evernote) June 11, 2014
On June 7, the French music-based streaming service, Deezer, was attacked causing the site to shut down for several hours. An entry from its official blog explains how Deezer set up preventative measures against future attacks. “New protective measures (filters to distinguish between normal incoming traffic and flooding traffic from the attack) were set up by our team, and the attacks finally stopped around 12:22am GMT.”
These kinds of attacks are incredibly common and according to map below from digitalattackmap.com, they happen frequently all over the globe. The map illustrates total bandwidth under attack at any given time.
With such repeated episodes, are governments doing anything to fight back?
Earlier this year, it was reported that British cyber agents turned the tables and launched their very own DDoS attack on the more widely known international group of “hacktivists” called Anonymous and the similar group LulzSec. This makes the “British government the first Western government known to have conducted such an attack.”
The campaign called “Rolling Thunder” was enforced against chat rooms used by Anonymous group members, “as part of a broader effort to scare people away from the Anonymous and LulzSec boards.” The top secret campaign was leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
DDoS attacks only affect users with the pain of not being able to access websites, but companies can take action to prevent DDoS attacks from happening to them: Tougher firewalls can be installed along with software to identify and cut off any one source that is contributing an excess amount of traffic.
To read more prevention tips for companies click here.
To read AZ Tech Beat coverage about hacking incidents click here.
Contributions by Information Week, Digital Attack Map and NBC.
This article was altered from the original post for clarification.