CNN.com was knocked offline for three hours shortly after Chinese hackers claimed to have called off a planned denial of service attack against the US publisher.
Late last week, a group of Chinese hackers called off a planned denial of service attack on CNN.com. It was reported that the attack would occur last weekend, in protest of "anti-Chinese" media reports across the Western world.
Despite the attack being officially called off, Netcraft reported that CNN.com was taken off-line for a period of three hours on Sunday — even though CNN throttled the number of users that could access the site from risky regions.
"...CNN's website suffered downtime within a three hour period on Sunday morning, followed by other anomalous activity on Monday morning, where response times were greatly inflated," Netcraft reported on its Web site.
There were signs that the attack had already started on Saturday. Arbor Networks' security researchers claim to have monitored several attacks launched against CNN.com, which caused disruption rather than damage.
"So far there have been a few attacks seen by ATLAS (a few SYN and ICMP floods), but nothing too big. All of the attacks have been under 100 Mbps as we can see, well under the mean attack size we typically see," Jose Nazario, Arbor Networks senior security engineer, said at the time.
The attackers used rudimentary techniques to launch the attack, according to independent cyber threat analyst, Dancho Danchev.
"In this particular case, a combination of do-it-yourself DDoS tools preconfigured to flood CNN.com sites seem to have done their work. What's important to note is that these are low-level hacktivists," Danchev told ZDNet.com.au.
The so-called hacktivists "infected" their computers with what is effectively malware, in order to take part in the attack, said Danchev.
"This is a great example of people's information warfare, where nationalistic minded [Internet users] of a country would on purpose infect themselves with malware released by a more technical crowd that knows how to achieve a DDoS effect," he said.