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[] DDOS treibt Firma in Ruin,

Hackers destroy e-business

Fears are growing once more that companies operating on the 
Internet may not be equipped to ward off electronic sabotage 
after anonymous "hackers" forced a small British firm out of 
business. CloudNine Communications, one of Britain's oldest 
Internet Service Providers (ISPs), shut down last week with 
the loss of eight jobs in what computer experts believe is the 
first instance of a company being hacked out of existence. The 
electronic attack, a so-called "Distributed Denial of 
Service" or DDOS, was reminiscent of one in February 2000 that 
crippled Yahoo, one of the world's leading Internet media 
firms, along with the online auctioneer eBay and the 
electronic brokerage ETrade. Other Internet operations have 
been infected by malicious software in the form of computer 
viruses. In a DDOS attack, a computer is swamped with an 
overwhelming number of requests that are disguised to look 
innocuous, so that the website that it controls grinds to a 
halt. Experts say tens of thousands of such attacks occur each 
year - and that a far greater number probably go unreported by 
companies fearful of hurting their business. CloudNine, six 
years old, was forced to sell its business and hand over 2'500 
customers to its rival Zetnet. "The basic reasoning was we 
would have needed to bring the network offline for far too 
long. We just came to the conclusion that we couldn't 
continue," said co-founder Emeric Miszti. Two other recent 
victims of DDOS attacks were the British Internet portal of 
the Italian ISP Tiscali, whose service was halted for several 
days, and the British Internet provider Donhost, whose outage 
lasted a few hours. "It's not just a game of taking down one 
server," said Stephane Huet, acting chief operating officer 
for Tiscali UK. "It affects portal revenues if the rest of the 
world cannot access it. It has a powerful business impact." 
The motivation for such attacks is diverse. Many hackers are 
simply after illicit thrills, while others seek publicity for 
a particular cause. It is now common in wars, especially civil 
ones, for each side to sabotage the other's websites. Past 
targets include sites associated with the White House and the 
Palestinian Authority. A DDOS attack last week is also 
suspected to have sabotaged a live online chat with the Dutch 
crown prince and his Argentinean fiancee. A number of 
programmers that can shut down computer systems by 
overwhelming them with data requests are even freely available 
on the Internet. In the case of CloudNine, the DDOS attack 
prevented users served by the company from logging onto the 
Internet and shut off access to websites hosted on its 
network. "It was a very methodical attack," said Miszti. "It 
occurred over a number of months. Their objective was to map 
out our network, identifying the key servers and determining 
their capacity. Then they knew how to attack with the 
appropriate force." Miszti says he is not sure why his firm 
was targeted and has no clear idea who was behind it. He and 
Tiscali are both working with police, but computer experts say 
DDOS investigations are rarely successful. "If (a hacker) 
takes reasonable precautions, it would be very difficult to 
track them down," said Gary Milo, managing director of 
security startup Webscreen Technologies, which has developed 
software to protect companies against such attacks. (Reuters)


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