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DDoS Attacks in the Crosshairs

The massive Distributed Denial of Service attack earlier this week against the backbone of the Internet has created a classic game of "Is the glass half empty or half full?"

A research note on Thursday from Gartner's high-profile security analyst John Pescatore provides a nice balanced look -- finding that the attack shows the Web to be tough, but points to areas in need of shoring up.

"The latest DDoS attacks show that the Internet's spider-web-like structure makes it resilient -- enabling enterprises to recover rapidly from even large-scale attacks -- but also fragile with a wide range of vulnerabilities," Pescatore wrote.

First, some background. Earlier this week, one of the largest DDOS attacks yet was targeted at the DNS servers that manage Internet traffic worldwide. Seven of the 13 central DNS servers were shut down as a result of the attack. Because of widespread caching throughout the Web and quick action by the DNS administrators, users barely noticed the assault and the problem was quickly resolved.

Pescatore argues that this week's attack shows that the security of the root DNS servers must be improved, along with the survivability of the Internet's main backbone segments.

The Gartner analyst contends government spending is required in addition to market mechanisms to improve infrastructure security. At the same time, corporations must begin demanding, and paying for, higher levels of availability from ISPs. "Enterprises that fail to do so will experience Internet service outages that hurt the bottom line by 2004," Pescatore says.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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