Terror in the Neighborhood

It used to be a friendly little neighborhood. Then the riff-raft moved in.

Maybe riff-raft is not a “Politically Correct” statement about our neighbors these days but, what’s going to happen to them?

“Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn”, is what Rhett told Charlotte in Gone with the Wind. It works for me too.

Some neighbors don’t deserve respect no mater what’s deemed sociably proper.

The neighborhood of which I speak is the Internet.

I am sitting here all peaceful like, minding my own business and tending to my little crop of Internet sites, causing harm to no one. I conserve Internet Protocol address space by farming all of my low traffic sites on one shared I.P address. That’s usually good practice and saves me a few bucks rent on my server farm.

Then the low life move in. At first I don’t know what to think. They log into my blogs but have nothing to say. Why do they come here? Maybe they just want a better life and I should help them. Golly, that’s being Politically Correct! But I dislike the PC charade.

Our open world culture provides all they need know about computer operating systems and network operations. The hardware they need to start farming next door is readily available. “We know it is far better to teach a hungry man how to fish than to just give him a meal!” we brag.  La-De-Da, let’s all hold hands and dance to the flute music. Everything will be all right! (There are actually some US laws about sharing some of that stuff.)

This lowlife doesn’t want to behave like us. They already believe (like us) their culture is better than everyone else. They certainly didn’t want to live like us when they moved in; they don’t intend to ever actually like us and will never become us.

The irony is sometimes the enemy is us, paraphrasing what the great philosopher Pogo once stated. “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Commenting when he sees the swamp is full of trash.

Trash doesn’t always spring from offshore, but the bulk of it does these days. There are no borders’ on the Internet.

Jeez, are we going to need permits and background checks to own computers! I hope not. That only irritates the folks with moral standards.

These scourges are not stupid; in fact they can learn quickly and master the technology. Then they turn that technology against us. It could be a nuclear bomb or a 747 or a gun in grade school, but in this case it is computer technology. We know the threat has been around for a long time. We have all gone to extreme measures to lock our electronic cyberspace doors against these neighborhood invaders. We know to never open our “windows” again without protection. We think it’s an electronic “flu” that they are cooking up with Viruses, germs and Trojans. (No, not those…)

Those things are tools of torture (not pleasure), but what got me last weekend (and many other users) is still active as I write this. Remember I said I used a shared I.P address for many websites? (Yeah, it was just a few paragraphs back.) Well, that is like a telephone party line, no a CB radio channel, no still too old… how about a rock concert with every band in the world playing in one huge theater at the same time.

Not much you are going to hear even if you could hear again.

That’s the gig. Tell every hacked computer to (all at the same time) call one I.P address over and over as fast as they can, until told to stop. The fancy name is DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) DDoS can also be accomplished with equipment dedicated to the purpose.

It happens by accident sometimes. Say some famous celebratory mentions a low volume URL on international TV and 10,000 viewer fans all try to gain access 10 seconds later. No one gets in until all but the last ten (for example) give up trying. Just more requests at one time than the computer system can handle.

If it was a private I.P maybe only one website would get plugged up. However, attack a shared I.P. and a maybe access to a hundred web sites could be hijacked. That makes them prime targets. If the attack is big enough, it can actually slow down and stop other chunks of the Internet as equipment upstream become overloaded. Thousands of sites become too busy.

Why is this done? Same reason terrorist blow up airplanes. It makes people pay attention, be fearful or at least uncomfortable, and make changes occur simply because they exist. Exploiting weakness is a prime rule of war.

To me it’s like climbing the mountain just because it is there. It doesn’t make the world a better place.

I have already started moving my more active web sites (like this one) to private I.P’s. It cost me more money but it is the only action I can take except to do nothing. It’s hard when the DDoS storm is still raging so it will take some time, probably when this first attack stops, if it ever does.