DoS attacks as bad as spam says ISP chief

Spam is just one kind of traffic clogging the internet's arteries; denial of service attacks are another significant problem, says ICONZ.

Denial of service attacks continue to be one of the greatest threats to ISPs and their users, says the head of Auckland-based ISP ICONZ, Sean Weekes.

ICONZ has bought NetDeflect from local developer Esphion to help combat DoS attacks which Weekes says are as big a problem as spam.

"There's certainly no slowdown in the number we see each year."

The head of security at Xtra, Carl Grayson, says Xtra has developed its own traffic monitoring solution in-house and, while Xtra doesn't discuss security software specifically, the country's largest ISP deploys a variety of solutions depending on what type of DoS attack is being staged.

"They can saturate the link itself, and having a big pipe helps defeat that. They can target at a higher level; for example, a particular application like the web server."

Xtra monitors its network constantly for any sign of abnormality, right down to applications using excessive amounts of processor time, to stop DoS attacks before they become an issue for end users.

Ihug also has seen its share of DoS attacks, at a rate of a large one every three or four months and a minor attack a month, according to engineering manager Anand Lal.

"When they do happen they pose a significant problem."

Ihug has deployed in-house monitoring software to help minimise the impact.

"We have defined limits for traffic based on IP addresses and anything beyond the normal sounds an alarm that allows the network operators to have a look and see what's going on."

Esphion has developed the monitoring software to help network administrators fight abnormal traffic flows. Last year it was involved in a Defence Force military exercise, the Joint Warrior Interoperability Demonstration, and the deal with ICONZ is the first of what managing director Greg Cross hopes will be many.

"We're focussing on New Zealand and Australia sales at the moment and have appointed a reseller in Asia, but the big target is the US." Cross says the company has been invited to join Alcatel's application development programme, which should open doors in new markets.

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