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INFORMATION Technology (IT) authorities here are on alert to minimise any disruption to the Internet ahead of tomorrow’s threatened global attack by hackers collective Anonymous.

In a released statement, the Telecommunications Regulator said a meeting was held Monday between government IT departments and private Internet Service Providers (ISPs), “the purpose of which was to coordinate actions for a jo int and organised response, if necessary and wherever any action is required".

“All the competent officials are ready on a 24-hour basis to inform the public should the need arise,” the statement said.

The regulator was responding to an earlier item in Phileleftheros which reported that Monday’s meeting was kept under wraps and that the regulator “swore to secrecy” all the attendants.

The daily moreover claimed that, because the Internet attack would occur on a Saturday – an off day for the civil service – private ISPs were told at the meeting that they were on their own.

Telecommunications Regulator Polys Michaelides could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The University of Cyprus is the official registrar for all the Internet domain names ending in ‘.cy.’

In a nutshell, Anonymous’ attack will target the “address book” of the Internet, where the dot.com’s and dot.org’s are stored.

“To protest SOPA, Wallstreet, our irresponsible leaders and the beloved bankers who are starving the world for their own selfish needs out of sheer sadistic fun, on March 31, Anonymous will shut the Internet down,” Anonymous stated last month.

“Remember, this is a protest, we are not trying to ‘kill’ the Internet, we are only temporarily shutting it down where it hurts the most,” the group said.

Operation Global Blackout 2012, as it has been called, looks to ‘shut down’ the Internet by disabling the core Domain Name System (DNS) servers, thus making websites inaccessible.

Assuming they make good on their intentions, Anonymous are set to temporarily cripple the 13 top-level DNS servers worldwide. They will do this by flooding the servers with data packets, in what is known as a distributed denial of service attack.

DNS servers are the backbone of the web and make it possible for internet surfers to reach web site destinations by typing in a domain name in their browsers.

Once a particular web site is requested, a query is sent to a domain name server, which then redirects that web address to a specific IP address on the web. Without these servers, access to web sites through traditional means (typing in a ‘dot com’) becomes impossible, because there is no way to direct the traffic to the appropriate web site destination.

Cyber-security experts tell the Mail that while crippling the 13 top-level DNS servers is theoretically possible, it’s a long shot. Even if Anonymous did pull it off, the disruption would last a few hours, if that.

“ISPs possess the countermeasures to deal with this. It’s just a matter of time to trace where the attack is coming from and to then block that door,” said Anthony Voskarides, former CEO of OTENet.

“I don’t expect anything major. It’s funny, because if anything, any disruption caused on Saturday might be the result of the scare rather than because of an actual cyber-attack,” Voskarides said, adding:

“If folks try to access their favourite webpage all at the same time just to see if it’s working, that might put a strain on the network and make the webpage inaccessible.”

If Anonymous are successful, you might just have to live without the Internet for a day.

Yet for those who cannot bear the thought, fear not, because there is a workaround – which should work in most cases. You can still access a webpage by typing into the URL bar (the address bar at the top of your browser) the corresponding IP for that webpage.

For instance, typing “173.194.66.105” in the address bar should bring up Google (www.google.com).

How do you know which IP? If you’re running a Windows-based system, at the bottom of your screen go to ‘Start’, se lect ‘Run’ and click on that. In the ‘Run’ box that pops up, simply type “cmd.” A window will then open. There, type the word “ping”, followed by a space, followed by the name of a webpage. For example, “ping (space) www.google.com.” The IP number will then be displayed below. Copy or type that number into your browser’s address bar, and you’re good to go.

Source: Cyprus-Mail

By Elias Hazou

Published on March 30, 2012


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