September 18, 2001, 10:47 AM — The National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC), the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation's cybersecurity agency, issued an advisory Tuesday warning against the possibility of increased Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks coming as a result of the terrorist attacks against targets in New York and near Washington, D.C., a week ago.
Denial of Service attacks are attacks in which target computers are flooded with so many requests for information that they are overloaded and are unable to respond to legitimate requests for service. A DDoS attack is one in which multiple computers worldwide are taken over and used to floor target systems from multiple locations. Such an attack knocked major Web sites such as Yahoo.com and Amazon.com offline for as long as a week in February 2000.
Increased DDoS attacks may begin to appear Tuesday because a group of Web site defacers called the Dispatchers have said they would be ready for such actions then, the NIPC said. The Dispatchers have already claimed responsibility for defacements of some Web sites for organizations related to last week's attacks and have also said that they have begun to target infrastructure components such as routers for attack, the NIPC said.
Tuesday's advisory comes on the heels of a similar one issued by the NIPC on Friday, which warned of the possibility of increased cyberattacks, including Web defacements and viruses, targeted against the "perceived perpetrators of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks." Such incidents have already begun occurring, with a Web site crack resulting in the e-mail addresses of subscribers to a Islamic fundamentalist e-mail list having been published on the Web Saturday. The perpetrators of last week's attacks are believed by U.S. intelligence officials to have links to Islamic extremist groups. U.S. President George Bush and other government leaders, however, have stressed that the attackers are not supported by mainstream Islamic doctrine.
The NIPC offers a tool that systems administrators can use to check whether their systems have been infected with common DDoS tools and thus might be used in a DDoS attack. The tool can be downloaded at http://www.nipc.gov/warnings/advisories/2000/00-055.htm.
The NIPC, in Washington, D.C., can be reached at +1-202-323-3205 or via the Web at http://www.nipc.gov/.