Van Gogh-Gogh Web Site Victimized By Hackers
LOS ANGELES (Wired News) Feb. 14, 2000-- Less than a week after several popular Web sites became inaccessible due to so-called "denial of service" attacks, local sketch comedy group the Van Gogh-Goghs announced that their site was struck by a severe "denial of interest" attack this weekend.
The attack began around 5 p.m. PST Friday and is continuing. During the
height of the attack (Sunday evening during "The Simpsons"), the denial of interest was so high that absolutely no one was visiting the site.
"As we speak, our site is not being bombarded with millions of requests by
thousands of visitors," VGG technical lead Rob Terrell said. "Damn you, hackers!"
A denial of service attack occurs when malicious users overwhelm Web servers
with massive numbers of authentication requests from falsified addresses. A
denial of interest attack, on the other hand, occurs when malicious users
send information to any server other than the one being attacked.
"During the attack, our server was swamped with excess bandwidth, rendering it useless," the group's Webmaster, T. Mike Childs, said. "It's just sitting there, a $2,000 paperweight, not serving pages, not doing anything."
According to noted computer security expert Marian Fragola, denial of
interest attacks are much harder to guard against and prevent than other
attacks. This is because any computer in the world could be a part of the
attack, she said.
"Before a denial of service attack, hackers secretly install special software
on unguarded computers," Fragola explained. "To launch the attack, they send
a code that activates the software, which floods the target computer."
A denial of interest attack is more complicated, because no special software
is used. Instead, malicious hackers purposely don't tell or email their
friends and family about a site.
"In a denial of interest attack like this one, any computer, anywhere in the world, that isn't actively surfing the site is a participant," Fragola said. "These people may not know about the hack, but they are helping deny interest in the Van Gogh-Goghs."
The attack highlights the unique vulnerability of Web sites: While it's easy
to ignore a Web page, the exceptionally annoying Van Gogh-Goghs are much more
difficult to ignore.
There was no indication yet whether the attacks of the past two days were
part of a coordinated effort, or simply the result of regular visitors
getting tired of the Van Gogh-Goghs' crap.
Sources close to the group said that initial assumptions that the culprits
were "moon men, or maybe the commies," were quickly discounted. Group member Jason Torchinsky had another theory. "It's probably the Freemasons," he said, "I know how those bastards think. My dad's a Freemason."
Yesterday morning, U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno announced that federal
law enforcement officials will combine their resources to investigate the
attack on the Van Gogh-Goghs site. She recanted this pledge after reviewing
the site yesterday afternoon.
"The Attorney General's office is here to protect large, important
e-businesses, not to be bothered by you bunch of young punks," Reno
said. The Van Gogh-Goghs were then advised to leave before the Attorney General's office got really mad.