The Biggest Online Attack in the History of the Internet??

By  Berk Veral, Senior Product Marketing Manager, RSA

…And they did it, they managed to slow down the internet. Next thing you know, they will break it! I am referring to what’s been called “the largest publicly announced online attack in the history of the Internet.”  And this week we read about the suspect; a 35-year old guy from Netherlands who was arrested in Spain (The Netherlands Public Prosecutor Service press release in Dutch).

This is interesting for two reasons:

1.) Supposedly, a single person can slow down the internet

2.) Flaws and more importantly the vulnerabilities of the Internet are being discussed in the main stream media.

Up until this news hit the media, the Internet was limitless in the public eye.  A big endless digital universe where there are billions of websites for everything and for everyone. The only Internet “speed” issues for the majority of public users were due to their own system performance or the connection – remember modem days anyone?

However, all of a sudden, there is news about a cyber attack actually slowing down the entire Internet. There were discussions about the specific details, the Geo-location effects, which users were impacted and how long, but regardless of the actual impact of this incident on Internet speed, the bigger impact might be how the perception of the Internet has changed; it doesn’t seem as limitless or abstract anymore.

Also interesting, this incident wasn’t “achieved” by an army of researchers and sophisticated coding, it was a DDoS attack by a single person and most likely due to a dispute between two companies. It got so much media attention that not only technology and security media, but global news organizations like the BBC  reported the incident.  Naturally, as it happens with most big news stories, discussions and disputes followed and the story lost its attraction for most audiences.

The real point is darker, though.  It’s about the vulnerabilities that cybercriminals and more specifically a single cyber criminal, have caused a public discussion about the Internet. Let’s hope that the change in public opinion will also help everyone realize that we exist in a physical world but live in a digital world that can be far more dangerous.  A world where our identities, reputations and finances are much more vulnerable.

As we continue to discuss the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), its positives, negatives and impacts on privacy, we are already reading news stories on how DDoS attacks are increasing across industries.

Berk Veral is Senior Product Marketing Manager at RSA responsible for RSA FraudAction Anti-Phishing, Anti-Pharming, Anti-Trojan, and Anti Rogue App services as well as RSA FraudAction Intelligence and Cyber Crime Intelligence. Prior to joining RSA, Berk served as a senior member of product marketing teams at global technology companies where he worked closely with global financial institutions on technology solutions

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