Saturday, July 11, 2009

DOS ATTACK : Cyber Attack Knocks US Govt Websites Offline

DOS ATTACK : Cyber Attack Knocks US Govt Websites Offline

By David Hamilton


July 08, 2009


The websites for several US government agencies, including some that patrol cyber crime, have been under attack since July 4, as a denial of service attack made many of these sites slow or accessible for as many as three days, signifying an unusually lengthy and sophisticated DoS attack.

The Treasury Department, Secret Service, Federal Trade Commission and Transportation Department websites were down at various periods beginning on the holiday weekend, according to the Associated Press, which spoke to officials inside and outside the government, who also noted that some sites were still experiencing problems as recently as Tuesday evening.

Not confined to government agencies, the DoS attack affected other Washington DC targets: The Washington Post (www.washingtonpost.com) and its Security Fix blog Security Fix blogger Brian Krebs said The Post had been under attack by roughly 60,000 compromised PCs from around the world, running malicious software that orders them to visit targeted websites over and over, rendering them unreachable to legitimate visitors.

SecureWorks malware research director Joe Stewart told Security Fix said the attack is hitting various sites in the US and South Korea simultaneously. The mysterious attack contained few clues of its origins, except for a cryptic line of text buried in the malware, which reads "get/china/dns."

While there has been no official statement from a name government official, security and monitoring companies have commented on the severity of the attack. Keynote Systems Internet technologies director Ben Rushlo told the Associated Press that the Transportation Department site was completely offline for two days, and the FTC site, which started to come back online late Sunday, was still inaccessible 70 percent of the time on Tuesday.

"This is very strange. You don't see this," he told the Associated Press. "Having something 100 percent down for a 24-hour-plus period is a pretty significant event... The fact that it lasted for so long and that it was so significant in its ability to bring the site down says something about the site's ability to fend off (an attack) or about the severity of the attack."

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