According to tech daily publication The Register, both the Chinese Central Bank and Weibo were brought to a crashing halt for a period of time this week due to what was thought to be a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS).
What is a DDoS?
DDoS attacks have become increasingly popular in recent years as a form of protest (although they are also used frequently for criminal activities too), and occur when a server is overloaded to the point where it can no longer perform its regular function. This can be done in several ways and can be achieved by individuals with the correct software or large groups of people with the same objective.
The method is very straightforward. One way occurs when a user with a botnet at their disposal orders the botnet ‘zombies’ to communicate with a server until it’s no longer able to handle the increase in traffic.
However, very often DDoS attacks occur when large groups of individuals want to protest and as such, all make contact with a server simultaneously flooding it with emails, large files and huge amounts of irrelevant information.
Weibo & The People’s Bank of China
This week’s attack is thought to have occurred in response to China restricting its banks from using Bitcoin as a currency. The Register suggests that disgruntled Bitcoin users may have responded by causing a DDoS and went on to suggest that matters could get worse: “the bank will do well to prepare itself for a prolonged cyber backlash – there are plenty of digital currency users and traders all over the world with an eye on revenge given recent events in the Middle Kingdom.”
This isn’t the first time a high profile site has incurred the wrath of internet users with this form of protest either. In 2010, WikiLeaks, the organisation that brings secret information into the public domain, had its PayPal account suspended after PayPal received a letter from the US government.
In response, the world’s most famous hacktivist group, Anonymous, reacted with ‘Operation Avenge Assange’, which resulted in PayPal going off line, at a cost of over $5 million. This story has been in the news this week with some 13 members of Anonymous in court with 10 of the defendants pleading guilty to felony charges.
Just the beginning
If anyone thinks that this high profile court case is going to bring an end to DDoS attacks they are probably very wide of the mark. If anything, more and more internet users are now seeing these type of attacks as a justifiable way of demonstrating when they feel they have been treated unfairly.
What’s more, for every 13 people who are arrested, another 13 will be more than happy to take their place fighting for something that they believe to be a worthy cause.