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24 April 2008, 13:26

CNN web site under fire

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The web site of the US news broadcaster CNN was difficult to reach at times last Thursday. A distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack brought its servers to a standstill for a few hours. A pro-Chinese hacker group calling itself Revenge of the Flame called for further attacks to be made against CNN's servers on Saturday.

That call became known at an early stage allowing the broadcaster and internet service providers to make preparations. Revenge of the Flame then tried to call the attack off, announcing a postponement. In the event, access to the CNN site was only seriously affected for some hours early on Sunday morning US time. According to Netcraft, access to the site was still subject to delays on Monday morning. That firm is continuing to monitor the CNN site, and is providing a graph of response times.

The security expert Dancho Danchev's blog includes reports on the DDoS tools used in the attacks. Danchev quotes as an example a site attack tool created by hackers, which he names SupperDDoS. He also lists a number of script-controlled web sites that use an iframe element to embed and then frequently update the CNN page to generate a heavier load on its servers. Revenge of the Flame adherents are said to have sent out chain letters calling on large numbers of Chinese internet users to join in the attacks.

CNN was able to protect itself fairly easily against the attacks by reducing the number of enquiries it accepted from Asia, making its site difficult to access from the area.


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