Cyber extortion: a victim's story

Cyber extortion: a victim's story

Summary: When a Sydney financial-services business was hit with a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, they learned the hard way that not all internet-hosting providers can deliver when it really counts.

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TOPICS: Security
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When a Sydney financial-services business was hit with a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, they learned the hard way that not all internet-hosting providers can deliver when it really counts.

In the week before Christmas, Manly-based Wealth Focus discovered that its online arm, fundsfocus.com.au, was offline, thanks to a flood of bogus website traffic. Their hosting provider couldn't stop it, and eventually just suspended their account, forcing a sudden move.

Meanwhile, the criminals emailed a demand: "I will stop only after you pay me the money. I advise you to quickly reply to me as the attack is very bad impact [sic] on your business."

The attack escalated. Originally hitting Wealth Focus' server from just 15 internet protocol (IP) addresses, the DDoS attack eventually involved 17,000 IP addresses.

In this week's Patch Monday podcast, proprietor Sulieman Ravell explains why he didn't submit to the criminals' demands, and what every business should be looking for in an internet-hosting provider.

Patch Monday also includes my usual look at some of last week's news headlines.

To leave an audio comment on the program, Skype to stilgherrian, or phone (02) 8011 3733.

Running time: 18 minutes, 01 second

Topic: Security

About

Stilgherrian is a freelance journalist, commentator and podcaster interested in big-picture internet issues, especially security, cybercrime and hoovering up bulldust.

He studied computing science and linguistics before a wide-ranging media career and a stint at running an IT business. He can write iptables firewall rules, set a rabbit trap, clear a jam in an IBM model 026 card punch and mix a mean whiskey sour.

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  • As I noted during the iiNet proceedings, if an ISP wants to take no responsibility for third-party property rights infringement, what will they do when your property rights are infringed?

    Now, while iiNet may not be the ISP involved in this case, the ISP community was generally in favour of a 'we are not responsible'.

    Well, this is the other side of that approach = you are on your own, even though they are fully between you and the extortionists!

    Any ISP could be more proactive in detecting and dealing with significant DDNS events, in cooperation with the victim. But no, they just take the money, until it costs!

    A business that tolerates some criminal behaviours probably tolerates many others.

    This means that any business looking for an ISP has to find ones that care about the legalities of what happens on their systems. They are more likely to be prepared and willing to help when your livelihood is threatened, because they know to not do so, threatens theirs.
    Patanjali