Also, Cable cut in Egypt damages networks in South Asia
It’s been one week of slow internet now. First, there was one of the worst cyber-attacks ever on the Internet; second, an undersea cable off the coast of Egypt was cut. The two attacks have affected Internet speeds and stability. The latter one has affected India more than the former.
Here’s what’s been going on, it’s a fight between two companies – Spamhaus and Cyberbunker. The Geneva-based Cyberbunker, a company that hosts websites and services on its servers, will host any type of websites except child pornography and terrorist sites. Sites with malware or other dangerous viruses, which can attack your computers, are free willing. That’s really not a lot of website control. Cyberbunker also allows the sites that use the service to stay completely anonymous.
When Spamhaus, a company that works to block spam, added the company to its list of suspected spam-hosting websites, Cyberbunker wasn’t happy; it accused Spamhaus of abusing their powers. So it launched a massive denial of service attack (DDoS) at Spamhaus. A DDoS attack is a cyber-attack that aims to make a service unusable.
The amount of traffic being sent around is so much that it’s similar to being stuck in a traffic jam for days or having to answer your door to someone every second. Spamhaus has alleged that Cyberbunker, in cooperation with “criminal gangs” from Eastern Europe and Russia, was behind the attack.
This attack has been on since mid-March and supposedly five countries’ cyber police forces are investigating it. No wonder it’s been reported as the biggest cyber-attack in history. Since Spamhaus has around eighty servers around the world, the whole world is feeling some effects of it- from extreme cuts in speeds in Europe to somewhat lesser cuts in Asia.
Spamhaus did get back online after help from CloudFlare, San Francisco-based Internet Security Company. The attackers turned their attention first to CloudFlare and then to the network operators upon which CloudFlare depends for bandwidth. They basically turned their heads to block the entire network.
The attack is still on-going, and Spamhaus is continuing to fight it with its own employees and help from other organisations like Google. They will help absorb all the excess traffic coming towards them. The attack at its peak had a traffic speed of 300 gigabits per second, that’s three times more than the last similar attack in the year 2010.
Now while all that was happening, the bigger threat to Indian net users was caused by an undersea cable cut — the South East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe 4 (SEA-ME-WE 4) cable which caused a slowdown in and around Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia. The cut was said to be near Alexandria in Egypt.
Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal recently said that Internet speeds were not affected in India. But India’s Internet speeds are nothing to boast about anyway. When Google’s Chairman Eric Schmidt said that India’s connectivity is still weak to come up to global speeds, you can only imagine the internet speeds abroad. And when they fall from such high speeds, it would seem like falling from a Maserati to a Maruti 800. No wonder everyone on Twitter is agitated.
The regular internet user can really only just wait since we’re pretty much powerless to prevent any such attacks. The speeds in India aren’t really internet revolution material, but we will still feel the extent of all these events- depending on our own internet speeds. Since there hasn’t really been any estimation of when all this will stop, the only thing we as users can do is wait it out.