By Jason Meserve | Wednesday, July 8, 2009 at 10:08 am
While the United States was busy celebrating Independence Day and worrying about North Korea launching missiles towards Hawaii, a massive 50,000-node botnet began targeting US government Web sites, successfully bringing down the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Transportation sites.
According to Computerworld, the attacks started appearing on the 4th, with government and business sites as the primary target, including the New York Stock Exchange, the White House, and the Washington Post’s Web sites. Many were able to deflect the attack enough to stay online, but the researchers say FTC and DOT sites did go down under the traffic load. Sites in South Korea were also targeted.
Over the weekend, the distributed denial-of-service attack was consuming upwards of 40 gigabytes of bandwidth per second, enough to overload sites not prepared for massive simultaneous traffic. As of yesterday, the rate of traffic fell to only 1.2 gigabytes per second.
Researchers say the code behind the botnet is not all that sophisticated and does not use the typical antivirus evasion techniques found in other networks. Despite its simplicity, the DdoS attack was successful. “It’s the biggest I’ve seen,” an expert, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to discuss the matter, told Computerworld.
Timing could be a key to the attack. By launching on the weekend, particularly a major holiday, the attackers were likely figuring guard would be down as people spent the time celebrating. In this case, they seemed to have bet correctly.