Everyone’s talking about DDoS: Part One

Too much of anything is a bad thing. Too much sleep, too many drinks of cola, too much bad TV… even too much time at the gym, well, it’s not good. Excessiveness is just that: surplus to what is ideal, desirable and manageable.

In the IT sector, one of the things we can all do without are distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. Fair game it’s superfluous to requirements in that it’s malicious, not part of anything we do, something we never thought we’d have to contend with, a mutation that threatens network security and viability. But, it’s part of life.

DDoS attacks embody the notion of digital gluttony, as its modus operandi is predicated on the idea of disproportionate traffic as a means of disrupting and immobilising systems.

Such a bane is DDoS to industry that in a study by the Ponemon Institute entitled the Impact of Cybercrime on Business Report, IT professionals ranked it as one of the preeminent menaces to security. In the US, it is listed as the number one thing that induces unease.

With news that Checkpoint Software Technologies Ltd has produced the first in a number of solutions to protect businesses from DDoS attacks – in short, the ” appliance sits in front of an organization’s perimeter gateway and cleans the traffic from DDoS attacks before it reaches the main security gateway” – we thought we would look at some discussion points in this very topical subject matter.

Let’s start with controversy at its most extreme. In the Netherlands, D66, a political party that has a modest but nevertheless significant ten seats in the Dutch House of Representatives, five in the country’s Senate and three within the European Parliament, wants DDoS legalised. Yes, you read that correctly.

In its new election manifesto, the party, which has been in existence since 1966, considers such attacks, in some cases, done in the spirit of protest, digital remonstrations, hacktivism as we understand it. Now, they’re not calling for free reign, but for it to be regulated, similar to how real-life protests are.

InfoSecurity reports that where the idea gets its credibility from is in distinction. Where DDoS attacks are carried out to merely disrupt the online services of a business, like blocking the doors to, for example, a prominent supermarket, that falls within the law.

Where such attacks go deeper, actually breaking into the servers of that business, where sensitive information can be elicited, well, so argues D66, that is a line too far. Like, perhaps, protestors heading into the supermarket and destroying products and stealing money out of a till.

It’s certainly a punch in the dark, a wild suggestion, but one that is good for debate. We often need contrary, leftfield opinions to air themselves, not because we agree with them, but because they help us come up with ideas and solutions that were previously unattainable. In true, Socratic style, we leave you with that brilliantly provocative theme to mull over in interim, as we return with part two of this feature soon.

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