“A Dutch web-hosting company caused disruption and the global slowdown of the internet, according to a not-for-profit anti-spam organization,” Matt Warman reports for The Telegraph. “The interruptions came after Spamhaus, a spam-fighting group based in Geneva, temporarily added the Dutch firm, CyberBunker, to a blacklist that is used by e-mail providers to weed out spam.”

“Cyberbunker is housed in a five-story former NATO bunker and famously offers its services to any website ‘except child porn and anything related to terrorism.’ As such it has often been linked to behaviour that anti-spam blacklist compilers have condemned,” Warman reports. “It retaliated with a huge ‘denial of service attack.’ These work by trying to make a network unavailable to its intended users,overloading a server with coordinated requests to access it. At one point, 300 billion bits per second were being sent by a network of computers, making this the biggest attack ever.”

Warman reports, “Calling the disruptions ‘one of the largest computer attacks on the Internet,’ the New York Times reported today that millions of ordinary web users have experienced delays in services such as Netflix video-streaming service or couldn’t reach a certain website for a short time.”

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Such “attacks are becoming increasingly powerful, and computer security experts worry that if they continue to escalate people may not be able to reach basic Internet services, like e-mail and online banking,” John Markoff and Nicole Perlroth report for The New York Times. “A spokesman for Spamhaus, which is based in Europe, said the attacks began on March 19, but had not stopped the group from distributing its blacklist.”

Markoff and Perlroth report, “Patrick Gilmore, chief architect at Akamai Networks, a digital content provider, said Spamhaus’s role was to generate a list of Internet spammers. Of Cyberbunker, he added: ‘These guys are just mad. To be frank, they got caught. They think they should be allowed to spam.’ … The heart of the problem, according to several Internet engineers, is that many large Internet service providers have not set up their networks to make sure that traffic leaving their networks is actually coming from their own users. The potential security flaw has long been known by Internet security specialists, but it has only recently been exploited in a way that threatens the Internet infrastructure.”

“Cyberbunker brags on its Web site that it has been a frequent target of law enforcement because of its ‘many controversial customers.’ The company claims that at one point it fended off a Dutch SWAT team,” Markoff and Perlroth report. “‘Dutch authorities and the police have made several attempts to enter the bunker by force,’ the site said. ‘None of these attempts were successful.’”

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