Recent CNN Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack explained

Recent CNN Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack explained

Summary: According to Netcraft:"The CNN News website has twice been affected since an earlier distributed denial of service attack last Thursday. CNN fixed Thursday's attack by limiting the number of users who could access the site from specific geographical areas.

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TOPICS: Security
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Dancho DanchevAccording to Netcraft:

"The CNN News website has twice been affected since an earlier distributed denial of service attack last Thursday. CNN fixed Thursday's attack by limiting the number of users who could access the site from specific geographical areas. Subsequently, an attack was purportedly organised to start on Saturday 19th April, but cancelled. However, our performance monitoring graph shows CNN's website suffered downtime within a 3 hour period on Sunday morning, followed by other anomalous activity on Monday morning, where response times were greatly inflated. Netcraft is continuing to monitor the CNN News website. Live uptime graphs can be viewed here."

Dancho Danchev, a noted security researcher, has explained this attack on his blog.  It's an interesting discussion that I think all should read.  I'll leave all the details to his blog, but there are several interesting topics to discuss around this attack.  Danchev explains the attack as an example of "Unrestricted Warfare".  This is a new concept to me, but not entirely foreign.  If you read his blog, he has an excerpt from a book on the subject:

"To compensate for their weaker military forces, these actors will employ a multitude of means, both military and nonmilitary, to strike out during times of conflict. The first rule of unrestricted warfare is that there are no rules; no measure is forbidden. It involves multidimensional, asymmetric attacks on almost every aspect of the adversary’s social, economic, and political life. Unrestricted warfare employs surprise and deception and uses both civilian technology and military weapons to break the opponent’s will."

AND...

"Unrestricted warfare is all about bypassing the most fortified engagement points, and achieving asymmetric dominance by excelling where there are no engagement points, in order for the attacker to enjoy the pioneer advantage." 

225px-is_this_tomorrow.jpgHmm... perhaps it's just the fear taking hold of me, but I'm beginning to want to recant my previous article on the "Red Scare" with Chinese made routers and buy into the idea that we're being attacked.  Consider this, not only does China attack us at will from an Internet perspective, with apparent lack of concern from their government at a minimum possibly even coordination from their government, but they also own so many investments in the US, it poses a real threat to our economy.

Additionally, my good friend Billy Rios mentioned the enormous amount of pro-China supporters at the Olympic rallies in San Francisco.  I think that most people would side on the idea of "Free Tibet", but the screams of "One China!" drowned out all.  Am I concerned at the large number of Chinese-Americans in America... no, I'd say I'm not, but am I concerned at the apparently large number of pro-China-Americans?  You're damn right I am.

Danchev mentions on his blog the concept of a "People's Information Warfare" campaign.  He describes the concept as:

The entire concept is relying on the fact that the collective bandwidth of people voluntarily "donating" it, is far more efficient from a "malicious economies of scale" perspective, compared to for instance the botnet masters having to create the botnet by infecting users in one way or another. Moreover, empowering an average Internet user with diversified DoS capabilitiesis directly increasing the nation's asymmetric warfare capabilities in an event of a hacktivism war.

Are we in danger of this type of attack?  Well, Danchev goes on to list several examples of "People's Information Warfare" campaigns that have been successful:

Other Examples of the "People's Information Warfare Concept":

-During the China/U.S hacktivism tensions in 2001 over the death of a Chinese pilot crashing into an AWACS, Chinese hacktivists released mail bombers with pre-defined U.S government and military emails to be attacked, thus taking advantage of the people's information warfare concept

-The release of the Muhammad cartoons had its old-school hacktivism effect, namely mass defacements of Danish sitescourtesy of Muslim hacktivists to achieve a decent PSYOPS effect online and in real-life

-The Israel vs Palestine Cyberwars is a great example of how DIY web site defacement toolswere released from both sites which resulted in a web vulnerabilities audit of the entire web space they were interested in defacing to spread hacktivism propaganda

-Cyber jihadiststaking advantage of the "people's information warfare" concept by syndicating a list of sites to be attacked from a central location, and promoting the use of a Arabic themed DoS tool against "infidel" supporting sites

-What exactly happened during Russia's and Estonia's hacktivism tensions? The voting pollthat is still available indicates that people believe it was botnet masters with radical nationalism modes of thinking. But judging from the publicly obtainable stats, ICMP often comes in the form of primitive DIY DoS tools compared to the more advanced attacks for instance. Collectivist societies do not need coordination because they know everyone else will do it one way or another.

What are we to do?  I say the US begin to mount up for this type of an attack as well.  At the risk of entering another Cold War, I for one would volunteer my many computers in the event of an attack.

Power to the People!

Hack the... er I mean, One Planet!

-Nate

Topic: Security

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26 comments
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  • you are racist, period.

    >> but am I concerned at the apparently large number of pro-China-Americans? You?re damn right I am.
    >> they also own so many investments in the US, it poses a real threat to our economy.

    So are you too scared about the apparently majority of American who is pro-Israel? If yes you are anti-semitism. If not, so whats wrong about it? China governemnt may be incompetent but they are not outwardly hostile to US. Why u people spreading fear just like Germans spreared fear about Jews in the last century?
    appleRulez
    • It's easy to throw around terms like racism

      I think there's nothing wrong with having fear over this. It's racist to point out something in another culture that's harmful and largely untrue, not to point out that we are being attacked by China. If this was anyother nation, or the state of California, I would've written the same article replacing China with whatever else.

      Specifically, my problem with pro-China-Americans is that I'm having a really hard time understanding how people can support a government who is basically enslaving another nation.

      -Nate
      nmcfeters
      • Double standard

        [i]Specifically, my problem with pro-China-Americans is that I'm having a really hard time understanding how people can support a government who is basically enslaving another nation.[/i]

        Did you have the same problem when US government was actively supporting dictators like Pinochet, Suharto, Shah, ... who destroyed democratic governments, enslaved their own nations, and murdered millions of people after branding them to be "communists"?
        OldGuru
    • Not hostile to US?

      China governemnt may be incompetent but they are not outwardly hostile to US.
      ________________________________

      If that is true Why is my computer network subject to hundreds of break-in attempts each week?

      I'm am not a worthwhile system, but they don't know that.

      I am a retired electronics test engineer and when the attacks first started there were only 2 computers on my network. These attacks started coming from China then as they got better at hiding their IP the attacks started coming from other countries in the Asia/Pacific area. Maybe bot attacks.

      Also my computer is connected to the internet only when I'm using the internet, I use a manual switch to disconnect the computer from the router.
      Me_too
    • what part of China are you from?

      Keep talking - you are not
      helping your cause. China is
      regressive, repressive, and
      represents much that the west
      does not hold to be true.

      Freedom and democracy will
      always be at odds with the
      current Chinese system.

      We are in an ideological war
      because the "West" and our
      systems of democracy threaten
      China.

      We value our freedom. We value
      the life of all. It is China that
      attacks out of fear.

      The child tyrant of the East.

      We are watching you! You should
      be scared.
      aitebreagh
  • RE: Recent CNN Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack explained

    The Chinese are only against Tibet independence because Tibet has been part of China longer than California has been part of US. Americans have the same kind of anger:
    http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5je6CYV2MW9sNYNOAOhc1qskVT7pwD8VU25F80
    cool_techie
    • Article seems not to apply

      There's a difference between talking about the south western states being part of Mexico then enslaving another country, like what China is doing to Tibet.

      -Nate
      nmcfeters
      • Who really enslave whom?

        Most Westerners know almost nothing about Tibet except sound bites from headline news. Tibet has been part of China for centuries and has never been recognized as an independent country by any other country in history. Before 1950, over 90% of Tibetan population were slaves (serfdom). Check out the truth:
        http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=4328870
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aboblx-0zAs
        http://www.michaelparenti.org/Tibet.html
        http://www.flonnet.com/fl1718/17180040.htm
        http://www.international.ucla.edu/article.asp?parentid=2732
        cool_techie
      • Tibet is not a country

        Tibet has its own ethnicity, culture and language, but that does not necessarily mean a country. Many countries have multiple ethnic groups and regions. China has 56 ethnic groups including Tibetans. Remember, Hawaii used to be an independent kingdom. Sovereignty and how a country is ruled are different issues. When China eventually becomes democratic, Tibet will still be part of China.
        cool_techie
        • Tibet is not a country... yet

          Perhaps I should leave my own political views at the door, but this slip of the tongue represents my feelings for how Tibet should be thought of.

          -Nate
          nmcfeters
        • Did you forget that Tibet was...

          Independent until Chinese troops marched on in and took it over?

          And in case you hadn't noticed, Tibet even was its own little empire back in the day. They do have a history of trying to be their own little independent nook of the world in between being invaded.
          zkiwi
          • Tibet was never completely independent

            Learn some history:
            http://www.infoplease.com/ce6/world/A0861546.html
            In 1906 and 1907, Britain recognized China's suzerainty over Tibet. However, the Tibetans were able, with the overthrow of the Ch'ing dynasty in China, to expel (1912) the Chinese in Tibet and reassert their independence. At a conference (1913?14) of British, Tibetans, and Chinese at Shimla, India, Tibet was tentatively confirmed under Chinese suzerainty and divided into an inner Tibet, to be incorporated into China, and an outer autonomous Tibet. The Shimla agreement was, however, never ratified by the Chinese, who continued to claim all of Tibet as a ?special territory.? After the death (1933) of the 13th Dalai Lama, Tibet gradually drifted back into the Chinese orbit. The 14th Dalai Lama, who was born in China, was installed in 1939?40 and assumed full powers (1950) after a ten-year egency.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Tibet#The_Simla_Convention_of_1914
            During the 1920s and 1930s, China was divided by civil war and then distracted by the anti-Japanese war, but never renounced its claim to sovereignty over Tibet, and made occasional attempts to assert it. During the reign of the 13th Dalai Lama, Beijing had no representatives in his territories. However, in 1934, following the Dalai Lama's death, China sent a "condolence mission" to Lhasa headed by General Huang Musong.[105] Since 1912 Tibet had been de facto independent of Chinese control, but on other occasions it had indicated its willingness to accept subordinate status as a part of China provided that Tibetan internal systems were left untouched and provided China relinquished control over a number of important ethnic Tibetan areas in Kham and Amdo.
            cool_techie
    • Tibetans don't seem to see it that way

      I don't think Tibetans feel like they are part of, or ever want to be part of China... this is just a hunch I got from watching the riots on t.v. and the interwebs.
      starcannon99022
  • RE: Recent CNN Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack explained

    Not Outwardly Hostile? How many times do they have to be caught committing espionage before they are hostile?
    savagex
    • The answer will always be: At least once more

      nt
      starcannon99022
  • RE: Recent CNN Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack explained

    Lets not forget that the world is made up of competing interests. Who's interests take root all depends on many things. I don't think that it is racist to say that China is engaged in a low intensity warfare with us. this is pretty much a fact. the Chinese government does nothing to protect U.S. businesses or consumers. it has helped stoke the fires of African conflicts by providing arm sales and economic trading partnerships to gain control of natural resources.
    petedutro
    • Facts are Facts

      Racism refers to untrue or unfair stereotypes... I don't think that claiming China is hacking us is either of those, so I'm not sure how I was being racist.

      I agree with you petedutro.

      -Nate
      nmcfeters
    • Who hasn't

      I wrote a rather lengthy research paper for some of my college classes, Canadian and U.S. mining interests have been doing the same for years, truly since the turn of the last century Africa has been being exploited in the worst ways imaginable. China is just a johnny come lately on that scene.
      starcannon99022
  • RE: Recent CNN Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack explained

    I lived in China for seven years and was subject to an attack every few minutes. It is time the world woke up and got educated. The majority of politicians who say anything negative are usually ignorant red-necks. It is time we wised up and saw the real danger.

    America, Europe and the rest of the developed world have been turning a blind eye; for future profits. Who is the bad guy here? In the meantime the world has coughed up huge fortunes that will be the source of future angst.

    Nationalism is the scourge of the peaceful. If foreigners demonstrated in Peiking, what do you think would happen? If the US govt organised competitions for hackers and they were tested on a certain country's government depts, what do you think the response would be?
    awesome22_4
  • RE: Recent CNN Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack explained

    The old saw about people who don't remember their history being doomed to repeat it is very true. Look at the recent spate of commercially released Chinese propaganda films and compare it to what the Germans and Soviets were doing in the 30's. The biggest difference is that the Chinese ones are much better quality and better received than most of the German and Russian ones, but the intent is the same. Very epic, nice story lines and they all emphasize the "one china" and what happens to bad little warlords and people who stand in the way of that. Of course, the "one china" concept is an artificial construct that was, ironically enough imposed by outsiders, but let's not let historical reality interfere with political posturing. China is moving to secure access to resources and influence by whatever means necessary and we applaud. We buy laptops and other goods created by slave labour, we turn a blind eye to policies that make Goebbels and Himmler look like moderates and western companies aid and abet the repression of information so they can secure a bigger return on investment for their stockholders. Why should we be surprised that they attack our information infrastructure when a company actually dares to comment truthfully on conditions there? We've already convinced them that we're not going to interfere as long as we can make money from it in the short run. I'm surprised they just don't buy CNN through a front company and solve the problem. Of course it's easier to browbeat or sue them into obedience. For once, CNN actually did something journalistic, no wonder Beijing reacted so harshly.
    keith.wiley