By Larry Seltzer  |  Posted 2004-03-25 Print this article Print

action plan"> So what can you do? The primary effect of most attacks is to consume all your Internet bandwidth, so you would do well to have your hosting at a very large managed host with gobs of bandwidth and the appliances to mitigate the effects of the attack. This, of course, is the advertising portion of this column for Rackspace, but they do have a good point. A big company like that is in a better position to protect you than a small one, no matter how smart and nimble the small ones are. Heres an announcement from last year where they announced an anti-DDoS initiative.

You can also try to shut down the attacking systems. Your logs will show the address of the attacker (its conceivable that its spoofed, but probably not). Its a short step from there to determining the ISP and contacting its abuse people. Unfortunately, these ISPs arent always quick to contact or shut down the systems of paying customers who just happen to be attacking someone elses systems.

A lot of these attacks subside over time, either when the ISP eventually stops them or when the customer reboots their system, for example. Or you can resort to stopping specific addresses. An attacker from an actual business domain will likely be stopped quickly.

DoS attacks have a kind of second-class status in the security world because they arent as scary or destructive as a lot of other attacks out there. Theres something to this, but its still a shame, since they can shut a business down every bit as much as a more destructive attack. One day the Internet may change to make them harder, but for now you have to be aware of them and ready to react.

Security Center Editor Larry Seltzer has worked in and written about the computer industry since 1983. Check out eWEEK.coms Security Center at http://security.eweek.com for security news, views and analysis.
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Larry Seltzer has been writing software for and English about computers ever since—,much to his own amazement—,he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983.

He was one of the authors of NPL and NPL-R, fourth-generation languages for microcomputers by the now-defunct DeskTop Software Corporation. (Larry is sad to find absolutely no hits on any of these +products on Google.) His work at Desktop Software included programming the UCSD p-System, a virtual machine-based operating system with portable binaries that pre-dated Java by more than 10 years.

For several years, he wrote corporate software for Mathematica Policy Research (they're still in business!) and Chase Econometrics (not so lucky) before being forcibly thrown into the consulting market. He bummed around the Philadelphia consulting and contract-programming scenes for a year or two before taking a job at NSTL (National Software Testing Labs) developing product tests and managing contract testing for the computer industry, governments and publication.

In 1991 Larry moved to Massachusetts to become Technical Director of PC Week Labs (now eWeek Labs). He moved within Ziff Davis to New York in 1994 to run testing at Windows Sources. In 1995, he became Technical Director for Internet product testing at PC Magazine and stayed there till 1998.

Since then, he has been writing for numerous other publications, including Fortune Small Business, Windows 2000 Magazine (now Windows and .NET Magazine), ZDNet and Sam Whitmore's Media Survey.

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