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article imageMap offers cyber attack visualization in real time

By Justin King     Oct 22, 2013 in Technology
Google and Arbor Networks released an online map available free in real time that allows anyone to see a representation of Distributed Denial of Service attacks happening all over the world.
The map’s release coincided with Google’s launch of Project Shield, a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) protection tool. The map uses data generated by Arbor Network’s Active Threat Level Analysis System (ATLAS).
Will Oremus of has some sharp criticism of Google’s presentation of the map
Google neglects to mention that DDoS attacks are also commonly used by dissidents as a means of political protest.
He goes on to say
Its map is pitched as part of a new array of "free expression tools" offered from the goodness of its corporate heart for the benefit of mankind at large. No doubt there is some altruism involved here. But it's also not hard to see how one of the world's largest and most profitable Internet companies might have a vested interest in lumping all disruptions of smooth Internet service together as "attacks on free speech," as Google Ideas director Jared Cohen does in a blog post introducing the tool. At best, the framing is lazy and simplistic. At worst, it's a disingenuous and self-serving sleight of hand.
Understanding DDoS in three sentences
A DDoS attack has been compared to a modern day sit in. Those conducting the attack transmit large amounts of data to a website, typically the home or login page, to either completely block other users or slow them to the point where they give up trying to use the site. The attack can be conducted by one person controlling a virtual army of computers called a “botnet” or by multiple people each sending their own packets of data to contribute to the overload of data on the target site; the more people participating, the more data being transferred, the more successful the attack is.
The unexpected consequences of the map
The map that was intended to be used to combat DDoS attacks by raising awareness of their existence may end up helping those participating in the attacks. The site will inform other activists that a DDoS attack is occurring, possibly prompting them to join in the effort to bring down the site. It also provides real time data about the gigabytes of data being transferred to the target; data that hacktivists will be able to use in determining when to call off an attack or when to gain more participants.
The map is available here.
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