Understanding the cyber attack on the CAF website

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) website was taken down last weekend in a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack.  DDoS attack is a method of taking a website offline by overwhelming it with internet traffic beyond what it can normally handle. This is coming on the heels of the African Cup of Nations football tournament.

According to the Associated Press,  a group known as New World Hackers claimed responsibility for the attack. This is the same group that claimed responsibility for the massive DDoS attack against the US based domain name provider Dyn.

DDoS attacks are nothing new though. I had written about its impact on the Internet economy. Last year, the entire Internet infrastructure of Liberia was brought to a halt following a massive DDoS attack. Anyone can potentially launch the attack as criminal elements now offer it as a service for rent.  Attackers deploy it for various purposes, but these days it is increasingly used as a method of intimidation,­ a way of getting back at someone you dislike, or a vehicles of protest.

In the case of CAF according to reports from the Associated Press, the perpetrators said: “We did this in protest against Gabon, they are running the Africa Cup in a country where the dictator Ali Bongo is killing innocent people!”. Gabon is currently the host of the tournament.

CAF like most organisations and businesses was obviously not prepared for this kind of attack. They had no DDoS protection until after the attack. Many companies offer commercial DDoS protection services, although they cost might be a turn-off for some. For at-risk public interest organisations, Cloudflare and Google provides free DDoS protection. You may also review the DDoS attack protection tips provided here. DDoS attacks are not about to go away, it can only get worse, so prepare for it. Understand your risk and react accordingly.

Categories: Cyber Crime

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