Distributed Denial of Service – The Impulse To Destroy

Distributed Denial of Service  – WTF ?

distributed denial of serviceThe impulse to destroy is I guess the dark side of the human soul. A dramatic start to a blog post I know but inspired by a recent hacking attack on Aweber – the email management system that huge numbers of online marketers and online business owners use.

The attack, which, started on Monday, was in the form of a repetitive Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) leaving many Aweber users in a state of mild panic. It continued for the rest of the week but normal service has been more or less resumed. What’s the point of these attacks then?

DDOS – Why Do They Do It?

A lot of the time it’s simply so that the weirdo’s who do this stuff can massage their own egos and congratulate themselves on how clever they are. There are of course more sinister reasons for attacking someone like Aweber in a way that basically overloads their system with traffic to the point where it can’t function.

One obvious intention would be to attempt to hack into the vast amount of contact information held by them and then sell it on to list brokers. Another would be to bombard millions of subscribers with spam email.

There are also those who would love to actually bring the internet down completely – a huge scale DDOS was launched at large numbers of websites last year you might remember and on that seemed to have been the goal. Scary or what!

As with all crime – or at least tech crime, which takes a lot of skill to perpetrate, I always wonder why these people don’t put the talents they have to more constructive use.  Although programmers and other very technically skilled people are not the internet millionaires – the marketers are – they can still earn pretty good money and get plenty of satisfying pats on the back for a job well done.

DDOS Attack On Aweber

There are plenty of examples of hackers causing lots of damage or breaching hyper secure information being tracked down to a bedroom in their mum’s house. We all have the stereotypical image of a slob with no friends but some heavy-duty computer hardware blasting away on the keyboard in a dingy room surrounded by empty take away containers but we’ll never understand why.

Tom Kulzer, Aweber’s CEO has posted a nice letter to his loyal and valued customers – of which I am one – explaining the recent DDOS attack and what they have done about it. The good guys then have triumphed and a cowardly, anonymous attempt to disrupt or destroy thousands of businesses has been thwarted. Just another day in the digital economy!