A spam-a-lam-a-ding- dong has erupted between a group dedicated to fighting spam and a Dutch outfit which hosts a few spammy sites.
According to the New York Times, it has escalated into one of the largest computer attacks on the internet, causing widespread congestion and jamming crucial infrastructure around the world.
Apparently the attacks are becoming increasingly powerful, and computer security experts worry that if they get worse people may not be able to reach basic internet services.
It all started when Spamhaus added the Dutch company Cyberbunker to its blacklist, which is used by email providers to weed out spam.
Cyberbunker is based in a five-storey former NATO bunker and offers hosting services to any website ”except child porn and anything related to terrorism”.
Soon after, Spamhaus, which is based in Europe, said the attacks began. So far they had not stopped the group from distributing its blacklist.
Patrick Gilmore, chief architect at Akamai Networks told the New York Times that Cyberbunker was just mad and that the organisations thinks it should just be allowed to spam.
The attacks are generated by botnets, and they were noticed last week by Cloudflare, an internet security firm in Silicon Valley that was trying to defend against the attacks and as a result became a target.
It appears to have become the largest publicly announced DDoS attack in the history of the internet.
This is not the first time that Spamhaus, one of the most prominent groups tracking spammers on the internet has been hit by denial-of-service attacks from spammers.
But in this attack it seems that Spamhaus was hit with a far more powerful strike that exploited the Domain Name System. This means that the only way to stop the attack is turn off the web.
In the latest incident, attackers sent messages masquerading as ones coming from Spamhaus, to those machines, which were then amplified drastically by the servers, causing torrents of data to be aimed back at the Spamhaus computers.
Spamhaus asked Cloudflare for help and the attackers began to focus them and the companies that provide data connections for both Spamhaus and Cloudflare.
Someone claiming to be a spokesperson for the attackers, Sven Olaf Kamphuis, said the attacks were against Spamhaus for abusing its influence.
He said that Spamhaus was not supposed to determine what happens on the internet.
Cyberbunker brags on its website that it has been a frequent target of law enforcement because of its ”many controversial customers”. The company claims that at one point it fended off a Dutch SWAT team which found it could not enter the bunker by force.