Service denial attacks 'unlikely' on UK Web sites


Service denial attacks 'unlikely' on UK Web sites

Lindsay Clark

Lindsay Clark

Despite the denial of service hacking attacks which crippled high-profile US Web sites last week, the risks to UK users is limited, according to security experts.

Yahoo, and all suffered outages because of the attacks, which have prompted an FBI investigation.

However, Richard Stagg, senior security architect with Information Risk Management, said the targets of such attacks would be confined to a handful of star Internet names.

"The most likely explanation [for the attacks] is that one person launched an attack," he said, "and when other hackers saw how successful it was, they launched copy-cat attacks. This kind of attack is always going to be on high-profile targets."

British businesses moving into e-commerce are not likely to be a major target, Stagg said. Neither are organisations that do not face the public, such as business-to-business e-commerce.

A denial of service attack involves a Web server being bombarded with bogus authentication requests making it inaccessible to genuine users. Attacks are often launched from systems hijacked by hackers in order to boost the onslaught and conceal their identity.

Though the attack itself is indefensible, organisations running mail servers have a duty to prevent them being used by hackers to launch attacks, Stagg said. This is a matter of good housekeeping which benefits the whole e-commerce community, he said.

UK companies were more likely to be hit by one-off grudge attacks, from disgruntled employees or customers, than by anything on the scale Yahoo has suffered, Stagg said.

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