Mas­sive Cy­ber at­tack dis­rupts in­ter­net in Liberia

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -


A mas­sive cy­ber at­tack tar­get­ing Liberia’s sin­gle broad­band link has taken the coun­try’s in­ter­net in­ter­mit­tently off­line for the last week, web se­cu­rity ex­perts said yes­ter­day. The char­ac­ter­is­tics of the at­tack point to the same type of cy­ber weapon that crip­pled sev­eral ma­jor web­sites based in the United States in late Oc­to­ber. Us­ing soft­ware called “Mi­rai”, hack­ers de­ployed a net­work of in­fected com­put­ers known only as “Bot­net 14” to re­peat­edly over­load the coun­try’s broad­band net­work, tak­ing Liberia off­line for min­utes at a time, in­ter­net se­cu­rity ex­pert Kevin Beau­mont said.

The hack­ers took con­trol of ‘in­ter­net of things’ de­vices such as CCTV cam­eras or dig­i­tal video recorders plugged in to of­fices and homes world­wide, he ex­plained, to di­rect the mas­sive dis­trib­uted de­nial of ser­vice (DDoS) at­tack. DDoS at­tacks in­volve flood­ing web­sites with more traf­fic than they can han­dle, mak­ing them dif­fi­cult to ac­cess or tak­ing them off­line en­tirely. “By hack­ing these de­vices you can cause them to at­tack an­other lo­ca­tion, or coun­try,” Beau­mont said. The UK-based ex­pert said the rea­son why Liberia was tar­geted was as yet un­known but its vul­ner­a­ble in­ter­net in­fra­struc­ture and lack of tech­ni­cal ex­per­tise made it an use­ful way of test­ing out even larger at­tacks.”There is only one in­ter­net link to the coun­try for broad­band, so it might be the ideal test bed for at­tacks,” he said. The vast ma­jor­ity of Liberia’s in­ter­net users ac­cess the web via their smart­phone, mean­ing they are un­af­fected by a tar­geted at­tack on broad­band ser­vices.

But the Net­work World web­site re­ported Liberian mo­bile phone ser­vice providers them­selves had been af­fected, as they rely on cable-based in­ter­net to power their busi­nesses. The out­ages would only reg­is­ter for a few sec­onds but are dev­as­tat­ing for com­pa­nies that re­quire con­stant con­nec­tions to servers in or­der to func­tion. Oc­to­ber’s US in­ci­dent saw do­main name ser­vices com­pany Dy­namic Net­work Ser­vices Inc, or Dyn, suf­fer suc­ces­sive at­tacks, caus­ing out­ages for hours for mil­lions of users of high-pro­file web­sites in­clud­ing Twit­ter, Spo­tify and Net­flix.—AFP

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