U.S. Agency Warns of Possible May Day DoS Attacks

SAN FRANCISCO (05/01/2000) - The National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC), a U.S. government agency, cautioned companies late Friday to be on the alert for a possible resumption in DoS (denial of service) attacks. Such attacks might be linked to Global Action Against Capitalism protests and are likely to occur around May 1, NIPC cautioned.

May 1, known as Labor Day in some countries, has long been a day associated with protests relating to workers' rights.

The agency, in an information system advisory issued Friday, said that it has received information suggesting that computer activists might well take advantage of the planned Global Action Against Capitalism real-world demonstrations to launch cyberattacks. Those most at risk from such attacks would be the perceived bastions of capitalism -- international finance houses and trade agencies, according to NIPC.

DoS attacks effectively disable a company's Web site by bombarding it with a high volume of information requests in a short period of time thus causing the site to crash or grind to a halt.

Earlier this year, the likes of Yahoo Inc., eBay Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and ETrade Group Inc. all suffered DoS attacks, resulting in estimated damages of over US$1 billion. [See "Analyst Puts Hacker Damage at US$1.2B and Rising," Feb. 10.]In addition to DoS attacks, would-be cyberattackers might also to seek to disrupt a company's online operations by mounting "virtual sit-ins" where the number of requests for a particular Web page are so great that the firm's Web server is completely overwhelmed and unable to process the volume of requests, the agency said.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) set up NIPC at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., in February 1998.

The NIPC's mandate is to act as the national focal point for both assessing, investigating and dealing with attacks on mission-critical infrastructures, according to information on NIPC's Web site.

NIPC's Watch and Warning unit, based in Washington, D.C., can be reached at +1-202-323-3204/3205/3206, via e-mail at nipc.watch@fbi.gov or on its Web site at http://www.fbi.gov/nipc/.

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