RIAA site plagued with problems

By Ashlee Vance, IDG News Service |  Security

After being hit with a denial-of-service (DoS) attack over the weekend, the Recording Industry Association of America Inc.'s (RIAA) Web site continued to have problems Tuesday and Wednesday, rendering it inaccessible throughout portions of both days.

The RIAA Web site, at http://www.riaa.org, was knocked offline for part of the day Tuesday and Wednesday. An RIAA representative said that they were experiencing "an unusually large demand" for the Web site, but did not go as far as to say it was due to a DoS attack.

Earlier in the week, the group confirmed that a DoS attack was responsible for taking down the site for portions of last Friday, Saturday and Sunday, however.

The attack began one day after an RIAA-backed anti-piracy bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, fueling speculation that the powerful music industry group was being targeted.

"The RIAA is a target you would expect to have hit by the script kiddies who are not happy with what they are doing," said Steve Gibson, a security expert and president of Gibson Research Corp. in Laguna Hills, California.

Gibson looked at the RIAA Web site on Tuesday and said, "it has all the symptoms of being under attack."

ISPs (Internet Service Providers) have been able to help organizations fight off hackers by blocking certain types of unusual requests, but new types of DoS attacks that send thousands of regular requests to a server could make it tough for the RIAA to fight hackers.

"There are new tools that are able to issue standard, valid Web requests," Gibson said. "There is no way you can block that. That is what all your desired valuable users need to get to the site."

Users throughout the U.S. and in Europe said they were having trouble accessing the RIAA site, although its performance did appear to improve at times on both Tuesday and Wednesday.

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