Hack Attacks Fought by Net's Timekeepers

A huge worldwide effort is under way to harden the net's clocks against hack attacks.

Security company Arbor, said the last few months have seen an explosion in the number of attacks, and around the world about 1.6 million NTP servers were thought to be vulnerable to abuse by attackers.

Unprotected network time servers can be used to overload target computers with huge amounts of data.

The attack that seemed to encourage the rapid rise in other attacks was carried out by the Derp Trolling hacker group, and was aimed at servers for the popular online game League of Legends. The particular attack took advantage of the weaknesses in older versions of the software, underlying the network time protocol (NTP).

Mr Anstee from Arbor said NTP reflection attacks can generate hundreds of gigabytes of traffic every second, completely overwhelming any server they are aimed at.

He said: "Historically we used to see a couple of hundred gigabit events every year. In February 2014 we tracked 43."

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