Do denial of service attacks have other implications for US national and economic security?

From our Prescott, Valley, AZ Correspondent

Denial of service attacks (DoS)  have implications for US national and economic security as any one of these attacks can be launched with ease form the comfort of a computer keyboard or other device, making it hard to detect who is perpetrating the action.

More and more criminals in the cyber age whether in America or across the world are relying on the internet and other technologies to further their criminal operations and create denial of service attacks and other mayhem in any number of sectors that can affect national and economic security.

Online petty and criminal operations are alarming in their scope and variety as those involved in the attacks can easily control a number of actions through the internet to carry out disruptions and crimes that can affect individuals to millions of people.  Attackers can prevent users from accessing email, websites, online accounts or other services. Flooding email accounts with large numbers of emails with (spam email messages) can prevent users from receiving legitimate messages.

 Entrepreneurs, businesses, companies, and government operations can all be affected by denial of service attacks. Websites can be disrupted and more sinister dealings such as drug and sex trafficking can occur as well as technology driven crimes that include identity theft, credit card payment fraud, account information theft,  intellectual property theft, government website disruptions and other related crimes.

With distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDoS), attackers can use an individual’s computer to attack other computers through security weaknesses and take control of anyone’s computer, which could lead to an individual’s computer sending large amounts of data to a website. Multiple (distributed) computers are being used to launch denial of service attacks across the world.

A distributed attack occurred in October of 2016 when an internet domain service provider Dyn was disrupted as were a number of major websites that included Okta (cloud-based authentication provider), CNN, Pinterest, Reddit and Twitter.  Dyn reported that its East Coast customers were affected from early in the morning with other intermittent disruptions throughout the day. The websites could not be accessed or they loaded slowly and those affiliated with Okta were unable to access secured servers, including private networks (VPNs).

There was speculation by security experts that the October attack was either retribution against Dyn’s research about provider internet abuse, or perhaps it was a dry run by Russian state hackers to disrupt American general election day results in November. The suspicion would not be unprecedented as in March 2014 Russian loyalists were engaged in distributed attacks (DDoS) on NATO and Ukrainian media websites.   NATO was affected in such a way that the organization would not recognize the results of a referendum in the Ukraine’s Autonomous Republic of Crimea.

Website owners whether individuals, businesses or government entities have to use filtering router devices that spot and drop DDoS connections, which prevent the slowing of  a network or server. Other strategies include changing a specific IP address. This is the approach the White House site used before a computer virus tried to launch a distributed attack on its site. The last option is blackholing, which simply means that all traffic is directed to an address that does not exist.

Waiting out DDOS attacks is another option as it can work with group attacks as they lose their effectiveness after time and their operations terminate. Also, any remotely controlled computers that are disrupting service can be exposed and their ownership identified.   None of these approaches guarantee total prevention, but with the number of denial of service attackers out there anything that affects national and economic security has to remain in close check on a round-the-clock basis.

Denial of service attacks does have implications for American national and economic security because of the readily available access by almost anyone that has these malicious attacks in mind and the knowhow to commit them within any segment of the internet. With this widespread and worldwide ability to disrupt the government and any of its associated economic agencies, the safeguards mentioned have to be instituted and utilized along with the right security mechanisms to insure that these interruptions cannot be allowed to stop or endanger major internet related operations.

 

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