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Noticing your internet speeds slowing? Here’s why.

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In a DDoS attack, a host machine controls multiple (in this case thousands) of infected machines in order to attack a website or service in the hopes to stop it from working properly.

If you’ve been noticing a slowdown in your internet speeds the past few days, there’s a reason.  The largest scale cyber-attack is going on now.  The attack is on a company, Spamhaus, it’s a London and Geneva-based non-profit group that finds and publishes blacklists of known spam emails.  They are responsible for blocking about 80% of email spam.  Spamhaus has been under a “Distributed Denial of Service” (DDoS) attack for more than a week. This kind of attack is often used to take down a website to its intended users, often times by having a network of machines constantly and repeatedly load a specific site or files that end up slowing the entire site down.

DDoS attacks are fairly common, usually it’s only a few machines that are attacking a site, and they can easily be blocked from continuing, however in this case there are thousands of different machines involved, sending out a ton of traffic.  This makes it very difficult to track down what machines are legitimate and which are not.  The online security company, Kaspersky Lab calculated the data rate of the attack to be 300 gigabits per second, the largest cyber attack in history.

So why is this company being attacked?  Their responsibility in blocking spam emails and spammers means they are preventing financial income from would be scam artists, people may see a few spam messages in their inboxes or spam folders each day, but that is a very small percent of how many are actually being sent out.  The ones you see are the ones that slipped through all of the spam filters.  The increased network usage over the internet is creating a ripple out effect which in turn is slowing down other websites. “This attack is the largest that has been publicly disclosed, ever, in the history of the Internet,” said Patrick Gilmore of the major content delivery network, Akamai Technologies.

We can hopefully see the attack let up soon, but in the meantime everyone needs to be aware of how to protect their security online, their computers could be infected and they may not even know it.

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