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World's largest cyber-attack knocks GitHub offline

World's largest cyber-attack knocks GitHub offline

GitHub has revealed that last week it weathered the largest-known DDoS attack in history.        

DDoS, or Distributed Denial of Service, is an attack that aims to bring websites and web-based servers down by bombarding them with so much traffic that their services and infrastructure are unable to handle it all.

GitHub is a common target – the Chinese government was widely suspected to be behind a five-day-long attack in 2015, and this newest assault tipped the scales at an incredible 1.35Tbps at peak.

In a blog post GitHub said the attackers hijacked something called “memcaching” – a distributed memory system known for high-performance and demand – to massively amplify the traffic volumes that were being fired at GitHub.  

To do so, they initially spoofed GitHub’s IP address and took control of memcached instances that GitHub said are “inadvertently accessible on the public internet” – resulting in a huge influx in traffic.  

GitHub called in assistance from Akamai Prolexic, rerouting traffic to GitHub through its “scrubbing” centres, which removed and blocked data deemed to be malicious. Following eight minutes of the attack, the attackers called it off and the DDoS stopped.

In total, GitHub was offline for five minutes.

GitHub said it continues to analyse this attack, and others, to ensure it is suitably defended.  

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