December 09, 2010, 9:40 PM — As the distributed denial-of-service attacks spawned by this week's WikiLeaks events continue, network operators are discussing what progress, if any, has been made over the past decade to detect and thwart DoS attacks.
Participants in the North American Network Operators Group (NANOG) e-mail reflector are debating whether any headway has been made heading off DDoS attacks in 10 years. The discussion is occurring while WikiLeaks deals with DDoS attacks after leaking sensitive government information, and sympathizers launch attacks against Mastercard, Visa, PayPal and other significant e-commerce sites.
"February 2000 weren't the first DDoS attacks, but the attacks on multiple well-known sites did raise DDoS' visibility," writes Sean Donelan, program manager of network and infrastructure security at the Department of Homeland Security, on the NANOG reflector. "What progress has been made during the last decade at stopping DDoS attacks?"
From there, multiple participants debate whether progress has indeed been made and if DDoS attack sources and targets can do anything proactively and effectively to detect, prevent and/or mitigate an attack.
"If anything, the potential is worse now than it ever has been unless you have just ridiculous amounts of bandwidth, as the ratios between leaf user connectivity and data center drops have continued to close," participant Blake Dunlap responds. "The finger of packety death may be rare, but it is more powerful than ever, just ask Wikileaks; I believe that they were subject to 10Gbit+ at times. At least the frequency has dropped in recent years, if not the amplitude, and I am thankful for that."
WikiLeaks had its domain name service terminated last week after repeated DDoS attacks against the WikiLeaks site.
Another participant, Arturo Servin, responds, "One big problem of DDoS is that sources (the host of botnets) may be completely unaware that they are part of a DDoS. (On) the other hand the target of a DDoS cannot do anything to stop an attack besides adding more (bandwidth) or contacting one by one the whole path of providers to try to minimize the effect."