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Jad Chambers Blog



An Imminent Attack an Annoyance

Say that a bunch of times fast.  Anyway I’m writing to warn about a threatened attack on the internet.  Hacker group Anonymous released a communiqué.  To save time, I’ll post a bit of it here.

It reads… ” To protest SOPA, Wallstreet, our irresponsible leaders and the beloved bankers who are starving the world for their own selfish needs out of sheer sadistic fun, on March 31, anonymous will shut the Internet down."  It picks up later with… “In order to shut the Internet down, one thing is to be done. Down the 13 root DNS servers of the Internet. By cutting these off the Internet, nobody will be able to perform a domain name look-up, thus, disabling the HTTP Internet, which is, after all, the most widely used function of the Web," the message explains. "Anybody entering 'http://www.google.com' or ANY other URL, will get an error page, thus, they will think the Internet is down, which is close enough. Remember, this is a protest, we are not trying to 'kill' the Internet, we are only temporarily shutting it down where it hurts the most."

I’m really torn on this issue.  I am obviously anti-SOPA (I wrote 3 blogs about it a few months ago.) But even though similar bills do and already have popped up from time to time, SOPA and PIPA are effectively dead on Capitol Hill.  I can’t agree on their stance on Wall Street or their dislike of the “beloved” bankers (we’re capitalists; we know that companies that don’t make money and fail can’t employ anyone.)  But I gotta say they’re spot on with “irresponsible leaders.”  We have those in every branch of government at every level.

But a “blackout” attack on the Internet?  Really I think Anonymous needs to stick to their “hacker roots” and continue to target the specific entities or companies that they have a problem with.  So I guess I’m saying I can’t disagree with everything they are saying, but I can’t condone what they are doing in protest.  Makes it kind of hard to pick a side. And, I don’t know how long this attack will be a problem before the DNS servers are back up.  It could be a matter of seconds really.  Or it could be a lot longer… hours or even a day. 

Well, I doubt it will be all that serious.  But if you have a website that you have to visit on Saturday and need to know how to access it if the “blackout” is in place…  I can tell you how.  Most people enter a website’s URL (or follow favorite tabs or web links) to get to their favorite websites.  Typing the URL “http://www.knssradio.com” or “http://www.google.com” will get you to KNSS or Google.  But those aren’t the actual “internet addresses” of those websites.  The “real” addresses are a series of numbers called an IP address.  The DNS servers that Anonymous plans to attack translate domain name requests from your browser to the correct address.  So if those servers are down, typing or linking “www.knssradio.com” won’t get you back to our website.  But, typing the IP address into the browser will still get you to where you want to go.  The IP address 173.194.70.100 will connect you to Google.

But the whole reason for the domain name system is so people don’t have to memorize all of those numbers to navigate on the internet.  The word “Google” is easier to remember than Google’s IP address.  So, how do you find out your favorite website’s IP address?  Well, you can always ping them.  For Windows users you pull up the start menu, find the accessories tab and select “command prompt.”  This will pop up a window with a command prompt (if you are an old DOS user like me, it will be pretty familiar.)  Then type in “ping” followed by the URL you are looking for.  For example “ping google.com” returns the result “Reply from 173.194.70.100: bytes=32 time=138ms TTL=45.” The ping’s results (time) may vary, but it tells you the IP address of the domain you are looking for.

So, if you know you will really need a specific website, ping it while the DNS servers are up and write down the IP address.  If the DNS servers go down, you can still access those domains you did the lookup on.  This does not work for EVERY website.  Many use subdomains and don’t have static IP addresses.  For instance, this won’t work for our website “knssradio.com.” But this will get you the major websites. There are other ways around the proposed DNS blackout; you can try proxy servers or altering the DNS server you use.  But using proxy servers can be a security risk, and altering your DNS lookup could just send your lookup requests to a DNS server that is also down.

Of course you could just read a book for a few hours too.  Maybe get out and see a movie.  But if you can’t get the internet tomorrow, this planned attack may be the reason. 

Lastly; even though I don’t agree with everything that Anonymous is protesting against, I don’t think they’ll garner any respect or sympathy for an attack like this.  My guess is that the attack won’t happen in the first place, or the effect will last less than an hour.  But if it does, here’s to hoping it does not cause any serious harm.



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03/30/2012 6:37AM
An Imminent Attack an Annoyance
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