Hackers take aim at internet root servers

Three of the 13 computers that manage traffic on the internet came under fire in a distributed denial of service attack that lasted hours. The offensive was thought to be one of the biggest seen in four years.

According to reports the attacks lasted around 12 hours on Tuesday but most internet users didn't notice the attack. The attack was mounted on DNS servers run by the US Department of Defense (DoD), ICANN and UltraDNS. UltraDNS manages traffic for .org websites.

"There was what appears to be some form of attack during the night hours in California and into the morning," John Crain, chief technical officer for ICANN told AP. He said that two root servers had suffered badly from the attack but had not crashed while the other saw a lot of heavy traffic. These hardest hit servers were run by ICANN and the DoD.

He said the attack was less serious than in 2002 when all 13 servers came under attack, Crain added the technology used in the servers meant that they distributed loads to other servers around the world, in turn this meant that the underlying infrastructure was better placed to cope with such attacks.

While the reasons behind the attack remain unclear, investigations into the attack have traces the roots of the attack back to South Korea.

The US Department of Homeland Security confirmed that it was monitoring "anomalous" internet traffic but there was "no credible intelligence to suggest an imminent threat to the homeland or our computing systems at this time," it said in a statement.

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Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.