Internet Spam Feud Results in Huge DDoS Attack

Dennis Faas's picture

A battle between an anti-spam company and a web hosting firm may have caused major Internet service disruptions for many Internet users. However, such claims haven't been verified.

The issue involves a dispute between two European companies. The first is Spamhaus, which creates and shares lists of web servers known to be used for sending out spam. Companies can use these lists to block unwanted messages.

The other firm is Cyberbunker, a controversial web hosting company based in the Netherlands. It's known for viciously defending the rights of its customers, saying it will only block customers who are distributing terrorist-related material or illicit images of children.

Spamhaus recently blocked traffic from Cyberbunker, claiming that it was allowing its servers to be used for sending out large amounts of automated spam. That angered Cyberbunker, which said that such blocks breach the principles of the Internet. (Source:

Spam Firm Hit By Large-Scale Bogus Traffic

For several days, it appears that somebody acting on behalf of Cyberbunker attacked Spamhaus using distributed denial of service (DDoS) tactics that targeted Spamhaus's DNS servers.

(A DNS server is responsible for translating a website address into an IP address, a number that identifies the specific computers where the website is physically located.)

The distributed denial of service attack meant the DNS server was repeatedly flooded with bogus traffic so that legitimate connections became impossible. That prevented genuine visitors from reaching the site.

One source says the bogus traffic reached 300 gigabits per second, around six times the size of previous attacks designed to bring down major banking sites. A firm specializing in combating DDoS attacks said the largest attack previously recorded was just 100 gigabits per second.

Internet Slowdown Claims May Be Inaccurate

That led to several mainstream media reports claiming the attacks were having a knock-on effect on the rest of the Internet, likened to when a traffic jam on an expressway backs up so far that it blocks entry and exit ramps.

However, several companies that monitor the overall health of the Internet say they've noticed no significant widespread disruption. One expert said that 300 gigabits per second is a huge amount of traffic for a single website to handle, but this has virtually no impact on the wider Internet.

That's led to allegations that the only people claiming to have evidence of the Internet slowing down are Spamhaus and companies working on its behalf. (Source:

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