Most hacker attacks are quietly blocked

Dec. 20, 2010 at 10:23 AM
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CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Dec. 20 (UPI) -- The WikiLeaks battle has put the spotlight on cyberattacks, but most hacker blitzes are foiled and pass without public notice, U.S. experts say.

On Nov. 30, hackers assaulted five big online retailers as the holiday shopping season began. But a global network run by Akamai Technologies of Cambridge, Mass., intercepted the data deluge, The Boston Globe reported.

Akamai, an Internet infrastructure company, is one of many that defend the Internet against distributed denial of service, or DDOS, attacks like the one employed by the WikiLeaks backers.

In a DDOS attack, computers get infected with programs that let them be controlled remotely. The infected machines, collectively called a botnet, can be directed to send an endless flood of data requests to a site and make it crash.

When a DDOS attack hit the retailers Nov. 30, the spike in traffic was spotted immediately at Akamai's operations center in India.

Akamai, with about 80,000 servers in 70 countries, instantly assigned extra ones to handle the traffic, ensuring that the retailers would not be overwhelmed. The sites were assaulted for three days, but not knocked offline.

Akamai would not reveal who the retailers were.

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