Crippling DDoS Attack Strikes Liberia

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Crippling DDoS Attack Strikes Liberia


In October 2016, an Internet of Things botnet launched a huge Distributed Denial of Service attack on one of the world’s major DNS providers. The botnet, dubbed Mirai, has struck again. This time, the target wasn’t necessarily a DNS provider, but rather an entire country’s Internet infrastructure.

 You may have never even heard about the country of Liberia. It sits on the western coast of Africa with a population of just over 4.5 million. It’s so small that there is only a single Internet cable that provides connection to the country. Its Internet connection is rather selective and spotty at best, making it the perfect target for a DDoS attack. Only six percent of citizens have access to the Internet. ZDNet states that the country’s single fiber cable “provides a capacity of up to 51Tbps of data and is divided up to serve the entire coast.”

In this particular case, since the entire coast relies on the fiber, Liberia and other countries in the region are susceptible to traffic flooding. The Dyn attack was estimated to be more than 11Tbps, but the attack that targeted Liberia wasn’t even half of that–around 500Gbps. It’s assumed by the traffic that it’s owned by is the same threat that struck Dyn. Thus, it’s safe to assume that there is certainly some variety in how powerful the Mirai botnets are.

Mirai Botnet 14 specifically targeted the two companies that co-own the only cable that connects the country to an Internet connection. This was discovered by the Twitter handle @MiraiAttacks, which monitors attacks thought to have been caused by Mirai. It’s believed that the reason why Liberia may have been targeted is because of how small and inconspicuous it is to most of the world, making it an ideal place to test cyber weapons.

While DDoS attacks are hardly uncommon, ones of such magnitude are an increasingly common problem. This sets a dangerous precedent for successful DDoS attacks against entire countries. Granted, it would take much larger attacks to topple a nation-state’s network, but if this is a trend that continues to increase, the possibility is imminent. To compound these fears, security researcher Kevin Beaumont suggests that these DDoS attacks to “be [of] a test nature,” which presents a nerve-wracking future for any organization that performs much of its business online.

If there are DDoS attacks powerful enough to take down the Internet connection of an entire country, what does this mean for your business? For one, it’s unlikely that your organization would ever (specifically) become the target of a DDoS attack, as these huge nation-state threats have bigger fish to fry. Still, other threats may find your data tantalizing and worth taking a crack at, so it’s important that you arm your organization with solutions designed to protect your data from any and all threats.

To learn more about cybersecurity, and make sure your business is protected against common threats, call us at (978) 993-8038.