Just the other day I was talking with colleagues about the fact that we felt that there weren’t as many ‘large volume’ DDoS attacks as there used to be. Well, we just got proven wrong. Me and my big mouth…
Over the weekend we saw major DDoS attacks on the systems of ABN AMRO (three times in twenty four hours), ING, and Rabobank and for some reason on Monday, the IRS (Belastingdienst) got targeted as well. From what we can see, their systems were attacked the old fashioned way; with brutal force, sending as much server requests as possible. In addition, on Monday evening many, many web hosting companies received short, but large DDoS attacks aimed at their company web sites.
The timing of the attacks could let the paranoid think that is curious that they all happened after the news broke that the Dutch intelligence services AIVD and MIVD (the military’s intelligence service) infiltrated a Russian hacker group called Cozy Bear. This group are allegedly responsible for hacking American governmental institutions and the Democratic National Committee. The information AIVD and MIVD gathered, is reportedly the basis for the investigation of the FBI, into interfering with the US general elections in 2016, led by special prosecutor Robert Muller.
The story about the hack reads like a spy novel – pun intended – but if you read between the lines, you can actually conclude that our intelligence services pretty much have their affairs in order. Just like when they secretly took over Alphabay and Hansa Market, shut these darkweb sites down and identified some of their users in the process.
But it is not just about their skills and competency. As ISPs, some of us are having regular contact with the intelligence services and the police. More specific with the Team High Tech Crime and the National Cyber Security Centre, divisions created to fight cybercrimes. From colleagues that have dealings with them, I understand that they’re not only good at their job, but they also have a good service record and are quick to respond. Certainly an improvement over the times when it was not so ‘normal’ to get an answer at all from a government service.
I know it is not really done to praise government institutions, but overall I think that our intelligences services are doing a pretty good job. Sure, some things could go better. And it doesn’t mean that you should not be critical of their actions or believe everything just because they say so – or to put it in the words of Boudewijn de Groot: “Sleep well, Mister President”. But I still feel that they are doing a good job and we could have been off a lot worse.