Full-Scale July 4th Cyber Attacks Waged Against U.S., S. Korean Gov. Sites

July 8, 2009

(ChattahBox)—On Saturday July 4, the day our nation celebrates freedom and independence, determined cyber criminals launched sophisticated and powerful attacks against nearly a dozen U.S. federal websites, knocking them offline throughout the weekend, with some websites still experiencing problems on Tuesday night.

On Tuesday, identical attacks were made on South Korean government and commercial websites, fueling speculation that the attacks are linked and possibly the work of North Korean hackers.

U.S. officials are not publicly commenting on the cyber attacks, but Amy Kudwa, spokeswoman for the Homeland Security Department, acknowledged that her agency sent out notices to federal departments and other organizations regarding the attacks and “advised them of steps to take to help mitigate against such attacks.”

What is known is that the Treasury Department, Secret Service, Federal Trade Commission and Transportation Department websites were all offline throughout the holiday weekend and into Tuesday night.

Ahn Jeong-eun, spokesperson for South Korea’s Information Security Agency, confirmed that 11 U.S. sites and 11 South Korean government sites were knocked offline, including the presidential Blue House, the Defense Ministry and banking sites.

Cyber security experts say the attacks appear to be a form of what’s known as “distributed denial of service attacks,” or DDoS, where hackers essential flood the servers with Internet traffic, causing a website to shut down from the overload. Simple DDoS cracking tools are readily available online for any amateur hacker to use.

However, the DDoS attacks waged against U.S government websites appear to be much more sophisticated than that of the average hacker. The fact that the websites were down for so long, points to a multi-faceted attack using botnets.

Ben Rushlo, director of Internet technologies at Keynote Systems, a firm that monitors website outages, characterized the attacks against federal sites as causing a “massive outage.” “Having something 100 percent down for a 24-hour-plus period is a pretty significant event,” added Rushlo.

Officials say that U.S. government websites are attacked with denial of service attacks many times a day, usually without causing significant problems, but this July 4 attack was unusual in the way it was able to continue to knock sites offline, bypassing any security measures in place to ward off such probes.

The fact that some sites were paralyzed for days raises the question of the effectiveness of the security of government sites. President Obama’s new cyber security initiative can’t come soon enough.

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One Response to “Full-Scale July 4th Cyber Attacks Waged Against U.S., S. Korean Gov. Sites”

  1. Full-Scale July 4th Cyber Attacks Waged Against U.S., S. Korean Gov. Sites on July 8th, 2009 11:18 am

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