DDoS ‘mega-attacks’ are on the rise, Akamai warns

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AKAMAI HAS WARNED that distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) “mega attacks” are on the rise and have the potential to cause major problems.

Content delivery firm Akamai has pushed out its Q3 2016 State of the Internet report (PDF) which reveals that, while the overall number of DDoS attacks didn’t increase during 2016, the size and severity of the attacks did.

This was aided by the number of insecure Internet of Things (IoT) devices being connected to the internet, which have subsequently been compromised and used in DDoS attacks.

Akamai suggested that the number of DDoS attacks in excess of 100Gbps increased from 12 to 19 between the second quarter and third quarters, while there were only eight in the third quarter of last year.

The attack on security journalist Brian Krebs’ website was the largest Akamai has been involved in mitigating. The company had provided services to Krebs pro bono via its Prolexic network service, and recorded an attack of 623Gbps in September 2016.

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Does the UK need or even want a ‘Great British Firewall’?

You’ve probably heard of the Great Firewall of China, the virtual fortification that allows the Chinese government to monitor and restrict internet traffic to and from the world’s most populous nation. Well, the cyber-security chief of the UK Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ) has suggested early plans for what sounds rather like a “Great British Firewall”. Privacy groups immediately sounded the alarm that it might pose a risk to freedom of speech, and offer the potential for Britain’s secret services to get up to no good. So what exactly is GCHQ proposing and should we be worried?

Firewalls are standard tools for computer defence. They are essentially filters which can control what traffic enters and leaves a network. You are probably protected by a firewall right now, at your workplace or at home, that runs either on your computer’s operating system or on the hardware that provides your connection to the internet.

A firewall can be configured to reject certain types of traffic deemed undesirable or potentially harmful. This might be a connection request from an untrustworthy source, such as a web address known to harbour hackers or spammers, for example. Or it could block a file that looks like it might contain a computer virus or other malware. While deflecting this sort of undesirable traffic the firewall allows standard traffic such as web browsing and email to pass through.

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