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Someone is Probing to Take Down the Internet, Warns Cryptographer

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Someone is Probing to Take Down the Internet, Warns Cryptographer

Introduction

The pillars that provide the basic infrastructure of the internet are being probed by an unknown entity, probing for that point where the foundation cracks and the internet breaks.

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The internet’s critical and underlying basic infrastructure is being probed by an unknown attacker who is – patiently – looking for vulnerabilities, revealed cybersecurity expert and cryptographer Bruce Schneier.

bruce-schneier

A board member at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Tor project, Schneier is also the chief technology officer at Resilient, a cybersecurity firm recently acquired by IBM.

In a blog post, Schneier states that some of the companies that run “critical pieces of the internet” are being probed by an unknown quantity, with “precisely calibrated attacks.”,

Much like raptors did fences on Isla Nublar, these attacks are systematic and well-planned, seeking to understand the defenses employed by these vitally important companies.

“These probes take the form of precisely calibrated attacks designed to determine exactly how well these companies can defend themselves, and what would be required to take them down,” Schneier wrote.

DDoS Disruptions

While Schneier did not disclose the companies – whom he spoke to in the condition of anonymity – he did reveal the attacks occurred in the way of distributed denial-of-service or DDoS attacks. While this form of attack isn’t anything new, Schneier revealed that the companies are seeing a changes in the way these DDoS attacks are being carried out. Not only are these attacks larger in bandwidth, they are also longer. They’re sophisticated and more notably, they’re probing.

He wrote:

One week, the attack would start at a particular level of attack and slowly ramp up before stopping. The next week, it would start at that higher point and continue. And so on, along those lines, as if the attacker were looking for the exact point of failure.

In speculating, it’s possible that the companies Schneier is referring to include registrars (the companies that provide domains like .com etc.) and DNS providers.

DDoS flood

Schneier’s findings are in line with a DDoS trends report [PDF] by Verisign, the registrar for domains such as .com and .net. If Verisign is taken down, your favorite websites and even your emails are likely to stop working.

Furthermore, one of the companies even revealed that – in addition to DDoS attacks – intrusions that attempted to modify and manipulate internet addresses and tunnels, were also discovered. Again, to test the company or its security defense’s response times.

Someone is extensively testing the core defensive capabilities of the companies that provide critical Internet services.

No Mischief Here

Schneier looks beyond activists and cybercriminals as the instigators of these systematic and calibrated attacks, pointing instead to the forces of cyberespionage. Such capabilities are, as history shows, possessed by the likes of China, Russia, North Korea and the United States, among others.

He wrote:

It feels like a nation’s military cybercommand trying to calibrate its weaponry in the case of cyberwar. It reminds me of the US’s Cold War program of flying high-altitude planes over the Soviet Union to force their air-defense systems to turn on, to map their capabilities.

If the assertion does come true someday, the world could see an unparalleled blackout that could disrupt the way we live in the present day, to the very core.

And what can we do about it?

“Nothing, really,” Schneier added.

Nothing until we are aware and talking about it and do some probing of our own to look for that unknown intruder.

Images from Shutterstock.

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Samburaj Das

Samburaj Das

Samburaj is the contributing editor at Hacked and keeps tabs on science, technology and cyber security.

Comments
  • user

    AUTHOR Pete RePete

    Posted on 4:13 pm September 14, 2016.

    Surely we know the source of the ddos probe no?

    • user

      AUTHOR unpundit

      Posted on 10:01 pm September 14, 2016.

      DDOS attacks do not have a sing’e source, by definition.

  • user

    AUTHOR Илья Найдов

    Posted on 4:50 pm September 14, 2016.

    It’s done by our country’s cyberweaponry… Russia…

  • user

    AUTHOR Wild Bill Kinda

    Posted on 6:09 pm September 14, 2016.

    That was how the banking sites were affected a while back with a DDOS attack, by taking down their DNS server.

  • user

    AUTHOR tinus42

    Posted on 10:24 pm September 14, 2016.

    This article is useless without specifics, “Someone” maybe just one guy in his mom’s basement. I bet there is someone who has plans to nuke the sun.

    • user

      AUTHOR Giulio Prisco

      Posted on 5:35 am September 15, 2016.

      Schneier says “I am unable to give details, because these companies spoke with me under condition of anonymity.”

  • user

    AUTHOR Lord Diamond

    Posted on 5:09 am September 17, 2016.

    zionists, fbi, russia? who knows… as long as tech and cyber security continue to rapidly evolve we’ll be fine.

  • user

    AUTHOR Ade

    Posted on 1:24 am September 19, 2016.

    Hopefully defences are being shored up and strengthened as we speak.

  • user

    AUTHOR Orchideric

    Posted on 4:09 am September 19, 2016.

    A cryptographer warns us about the internet having DDoS attacks. You’ve gotta be kidding me?

  • user

    AUTHOR newsuperhuman

    Posted on 5:50 am October 3, 2016.

    We know who the “unknown quantities” are – the US, China, Russia, UK, Germany, etc. No mystery here.

  • View Comments (10) ...
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