Someone is Testing Methods for Taking Down the Entire Internet
Imagine one fine sunny day you wake up, have your coffee and try to log into Facebook or Gmail and find that you can’t reach it. You immediately try to tweet about it but find Twitter is also not available! You then call up your friends/colleagues and find out that they are also facing a similar situation. You call a friend based in Australia, all the way from the United States, and find out that he/she is also not able to access any website! Is this doomsday possible!
Yes according to security researcher, Bruce Schneier. In fact, Schneier says that some unknown entity is already working on bringing down the whole Internet. Schneier in an essay last month revealed that companies responsible for the basic infrastructure of the Internet are experiencing an escalating series of coordinated attacks that appear designed to test the defenses of its most critical elements.
Based on his studies, he says that these escalated attacks are just a primer to the full-fledged attack to take down the entire Internet backbone and hurl the cyber world into chaos. Though Schneier has identified a pattern in the ongoing attacks, he has not been able to identify the unknown entity which is behind such attacks. He says that, based on the scale of the attacks, the most likely culprit is a single large state cyber warfare unit, with China at the top of the list of suspects.
Schneier says that the ultimate goal of such an entity is to enforce a “global blackout of all websites and e-mail addresses in the most common top-level domains.”
We can’t take Schneier words lightly as he knows what he is speaking about. Schneier is the CTO of IBM’s Resilient and a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center so his research comes from vast bit of experience.
Schneier says that he notice a pattern in the recent attacks which were standard sized, though huge, DDoS attacks —blasts of data designed to overwhelm servers could be in the offing. What distinguished them was their methodically escalating nature. The attacks, described by sources speaking to Schneier anonymously, are coming in slowly mounting waves, forcing companies to “demonstrate their defense capabilities for the attacker.”
His inside findings align with a public report from domain registrar Verisign, which says that DDoS attacks have “continued to become more frequent, persistent, and complex.” Schneier says that the unknown entity is also testing out non-DDoS attacks, including attempts to tamper with Internet addresses and routing.
Schneier writes that this “doesn’t seem like something an activist, criminal, or researcher would do,” and that the scale of the probes suggests the involvement of a state. Though he doesn’t go into much detail, he says the “data I see suggests China, an assessment shared by the people I spoke with.”
Graham Templeton from ExtremeTech analysed Schneier’s research and pointed out that the entity who is trying out such attacks has to have a backup plan ready so that its own Internet network doesn’t collapse during such a mass attack. What makes China a probable candidate for such a weapon of cyber mass destruction is that that it along with Russia has made significant strides in building systems that would resist any such mass takedown. Templeton argues that these tests were “meant to be seen,” for much the same reason that nations in the past have made their nuclear weapons and missile tests highly visible—as a means of flexing global power by demonstrating the ability to blow it all up.
In case you wake up one day to find out that the Internet in the entire world has collapsed like Schneier says, you know whom to blame.