Journal: Denial of Service Attacks on Humanitarian Sites

07 Other Atrocities, 10 Security, 11 Society, Computer/online security, Gift Intelligence, IO Multinational, Non-Governmental
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DDoS Attacks Continue to Plague Human Rights Sites

By: Chloe Albanesius

PC Magazine, 12.22.2010

WikiLeaks and Operation Payback have put distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks in the news recently, but independent media and human rights Web sites have been battling these attacks on a consistent basis with no easy solution in sight, according to a Wednesday study.

While major sites can fend off a DDoS or recover quickly, smaller sites can be crippled by these attacks, which often hit in conjunction with other attacks like filtering, intrusions, and defacements, according to the Berkman Center for Internet & Society.

“DDoS is an increasingly common Internet phenomenon capable of silencing Internet speech, usually for a brief interval but occasionally for longer,” the report said. “Our report offers advice to independent media and human rights sites likely to be targeted by DDoS but comes to the uncomfortable conclusion that there is no easy solution to these attacks for many of these sites, particularly for attacks that exhaust network bandwidth.”

The report’s authors suggest that DDoS attacks will become more common amidst news about similar WikiLeaks and Operation Payback attacks. Even before that, however, DDoS attacks on independent media and human rights sites were quite common during the last year, happening even outside of major events like elections, protests, and military operations.

These sites are being hit with two types of DDoS: application and network. Application attacks exhaust local server resources and can usually be rectified with the help of a skilled system admin. Network attacks, however, exhaust network bandwidth and can usually only be fixed with the (costly) help of a hosting provider.

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