Attack of the Internet: A Cascade of Bandwidth

This blog post comes from an article published TODAY at Tech News Daily about the power behind Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks and how they could bring down the internet as we know it. (gasp).

A DDoS attack is when a server becomes overloaded by an incredible surge of incoming “pings” to their site. While at first this sounds good, it is not. This surge in incoming data renders the site almost useless, and can sometimes even bring the entire site down, which can be very costly to companies. Especially if you are an American bank, which have recently been the target of several of such attacks. The problem with such attacks as these is the first “D”, distributed. Originally, Dos attacks could easily be shut down by locating the source IP address and handling the situation as only internet super humans can do. However, with the additional aspect of the attack being distributed, which means it can potentially come from every corner of the globe simultaneously, defense becomes a much harder option.

A DDoS is an artificial cascade, caused with the intention of shutting down a website due to the limitations of servers. The problem is not only the cascade that is the attack, but the result of that cascade on the larger network (THE INTERNET!!). The article talks about the potential problems of having a major server shut down from a DDoS attack:

“Problems can occur, Cave and Scott explained, when high-level routers need to re-establish routing maps, adjacencies, policies and/or peering agreements with other entities and with their own client routers. This process can take several minutes, effectively creating a bottleneck at a specific network location and sometimes generating a ripple effect that cascades through the network.”

Essentially, the cascade causes another cascade of routers that are forced to shut down. This could spell disaster for the Internet if a suitable defense can not be found. Hopefully now that the process of the attack is public a suitable strategy can be created to help defend against it. Otherwise, the entirety of the internet could be susceptible to one large strike of DDoS.