Denial of service attacks:

Stilgherrian writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 6). Regarding the tip today about “Aussie aid website hacked”, a denial of service attack is not hacked. Australian Council for International Development’s first tweet says their “web host” — that is, the data centre where their website lives — was hit with the attack, overloading their internet links and making connections impossible.

An hour later the problem was resolved, probably because the data centre worked out how to block or mitigate the attack. Or the attack just ended. Defending against these attacks is routine stuff. The data centre in question is Linode, which hosts 125,000 different internet domains. Chances are ACID wasn’t the target.

Neil Hunt writes: Can we please be clear that a denial of service attack is nothing like a “hack”?

A “hack” would mean that someone had exploited something on the  web server, broken in and then probably defaced it in some way.  A denial of service is usually just a (very large) bunch of IP packets being sent to the web server to stop it responding to real requests — that is, to stop showing the web pages.

I don’t much like the use of the term “hack”, preferring to use “crack”, but I’ve learnt to accept that in this day and age when one refers to a “hack” they’re referring to the illegal activity and not what I, and my friends, used to do 20 years ago with hardware and software.

Tim Villa writes: There’s a big difference between a site being hacked (someone gaining unauthorised access to or control of the system) and a denial of service attack (such as flooding a site with traffic to deny access to other visitors).

Peter Fray

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