If the case of the Internet Chess Club doesn't illustrate the danger posed by new "denial of service" attacks, nothing will.
People from at least three Internet services across the country have been working since last Thursday to trace the attack and stop it, and they still haven't been able to do it.
But they at least made the site functional as of tonight, said Daniel Sleator, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon and president of the Internet Chess Club (ICC), a subscription-based chess service.
Slaetor declined to explain how he, local provider Imagiware, and Imagiware's provider, Netcom, have teamed up to get around the hack. The disclosure of any such information could help the person waging this war.
In this latest form of online sabotage, a perpetrator sends thousands of bogus connection requests to a service, tying it up so that legitimate users can't get on.
But rest assured, providers are determined to find the culprit and stop it. Unfortunately, at this point, that's all any Internet provider can do--try.
So far, there is no solution to this kind of attack, which has been around for ages but hadn't been widely used until two hacker publications recently printed the code that would allow the attack.
The hacker--or, more accurately, the vandal--does not actually break into a system. He or she just shuts it down.
Although nobody knows why these offensives are launched, the attack does seem to be targeted, said Brian Casey, a partner at Imagiware. "There's a couple people out there who have something against chess on the Internet," he said.
Another service, the Free Internet Chess Server, also has been shut down by the attack. "It's gone on long enough that it seems unlikely that it's some random person," he said. "We don't know who it is, and until we do, I guess we don't know why they're doing it."
In the meantime, Casey said, "they've been costing a lot of people a lot of money."