Tuesday, February 06, 2007

What Today's DNS Attack Looked Like

As you might have read in the press today, a group of hackers tried to take down the domain name system (DNS), which is a key component of the Internet. They did this by flooding two of the top level DNS servers with requests. This picture, provided by Ripe.Net, shows the attack in full swing.

On the left are numbers 1-13, which refer to the 13 top-level DNS servers. They handle DNS requests from lower-level servers that cannot resolve a particular DNS address. As can be seen, two of the servers were targeted simultaneously in an attack that lasted several hours.

For readers who aren't familiar with DNS, it's the service that translates URLs into actual numerical addresses (which is how the Internet actually runs). So cnn.com, for example, is translated by a DNS server into Knock out the servers that do this translation and you can only get to sites via their numerical IP addresses.

Fortunately, these 13 top-level DNS servers are redundant, so all this attack did was to slow some Internet/Web queries. However, if all 13 had been attacked, things would have become quite serious.

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