By tushneem | September 22, 2009
Slightly over a month ago, it almost seemed like the real-time world came to an end when Twitter went down from a denial of service (DoS) attack. Most other services like Facebook, livejournal and even Google to some extent bore the brunt of the attack. Folks addicted to real-time streams were left twiddling their thumbs while rest of the world kept speculating on the origins, the hows, and the whys of the attack. Very few, however, talked about whether the attack could have been prevented or mitigated and what lessons if any were learned. The ‘how can we prevent it’ question also came up in a recent conversation I was having with someone. Given that every business today sells something online (either products or services), the recent DDoS attack carries significance for all.
DDoS, if you are not familiar, is Distributed Denial of Service where the hacker takes control of several computers like yours and then launches a concerted attack on the victim. (slow internet connection without much activity? – your computer is probably being used by a hacker). DDoS and several other types of attacks are not uncommon. It is just that networks have evolved to handle such attacks and in some cases the attacks are not significant enough to be reported. Over the years the network monitoring and analysis tools (an over $3 Billion market today) have matured providing network administrators more forewarning helping them mitigate the disruption caused by such attacks. Even way back in 2003, as part of research (see the IEEE paper below for more reading), we were working efficient frameworks and metrics for real-time monitoring and analysis – something that is very much relevant even today. So yes we do have the tools.