A brief history of DDoS… and how to defend yourself and your customers

When did the DDoS rot start to set in, and how can managed service providers (MSPs) help in stopping it?

That a successful DDoS attack can flood your network, site or service with traffic that can grind it to a halt and effectively take you out of business, is unfortunately an all too well known fact. But how did it all start, and how can managed service providers (MSPs) help in putting a stop to it? In 1995, an Italian political collective called the Strano Network implemented the now infamous ‘Net Strike’ against various French government websites in protest against nuclear policies. This was the first Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack I can recall hearing about as a veteran IT security journalist. The attack only lasted an hour, partly as Internet connectivity was costly and partly because the attack technology at the time was primitive and required actors to be glued to their terminals. Within a couple of years that technology had advanced, in great part courtesy of the Electronic Disturbance Theater (EDT) group, which developed its own attack tools in-house. None was more effective than FloodNet, which made targeted DDoS attacks a point and click affair. These ‘sit-ins’, as EDT called their attacks, hit both US and Mexican government sites as the 90s drew to a close.

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