Web attacks target human rights sites

BBC News

Human rights groups and campaigners are being hit hard by huge web attacks launched by those opposed to their views, finds research.

Many web-based campaigning groups are being knocked offline for weeks by the attacks, it found.

The researchers expect the tempo of attacks to increase as the tools and techniques become more widespread.

It urged human rights groups and independent media groups to beef up their defences to avoid falling victim.

Flash flood
The research by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University tried to get a sense of how often human rights groups and independent media organisations are hit by what is known as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.

DDoS attacks try to knock a site offline by overwhelming it with data.

In the 12 months between August 2009 and September 2010 the research found evidence of 140 attacks against more than 280 different sites. The report acknowledged that these were likely to be the most high profile attacks and that many more had probably gone unreported.

“These attacks do seem to be increasingly common,” said Ethan Zuckerman, one of the authors of the report.

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