Did the spam cyber fight really slow down the Internet?

Reports of a virtual attack on a spam-fighting organization say the events brought down most of the Web, but new reports suggest it was blown out of proportion.

Donna Tam Staff Writer / News
Donna Tam covers Amazon and other fun stuff for CNET News. She is a San Francisco native who enjoys feasting, merrymaking, checking her Gmail and reading her Kindle.
Donna Tam
2 min read

Reports from Internet monitoring services show that recent news of a cyber attack so big that it made the Internet slow to a crawl around the world was a bit dramatic.

The New York Times reported about spam-fighting nonprofit Spamhaus and a distributed-denial-of-service attack on the Dutch group's site that became the "largest computer attacks on the Internet" and caused a "widespread congestion and jamming crucial infrastructure around the world."

Matthew Prince, the CEO of CloudFlare, the company enlisted to fight the attacks for Spamhaus, told CNET today that the attacks -- which ceased yesterday morning -- were so big, they caused outages for the London and Hong Kong Internet exchanges. These exchanges are the meeting point for multiple networks. Before the Times report, CloudFlare put out a blog post titled, "The DDoS that almost broke the Internet."

But new reports, like one from VentureBeat, show that a check of different Internet monitoring services reveal that the disruption, while indeed large, did not actually cripple the Internet globally. Most of the congestion was in the U.K., Germany, and the Netherlands, which makes sense given where Spamhaus is based.

While the New York Times piece also mentioned outages on Netflix, there have been no confirmed reports. A check on the health of Amazon Web Services -- the hosting service that supports the Web sites for numerous companies, including Netflix -- for the week also came up clean, according to Gizmodo. The site went as far as to say that CloudFlare was feeding the beast to "scare the Internet's residents [into] thinking they're the residents of Dresden in order to drum up business."

Prince said he didn't read the Gizmodo piece but stands by his earlier statements to the press regarding the size of the attacks. Spamhaus didn't respond to CNET's request for a comment.

"I'd point you to journalists like those at the New York Times who talked to both network security experts and the various providers who were actually involved rather than someone who is compensated based on page views," Prince wrote in an e-mail to CNET.

Well, one thing's for sure, the Internet isn't broken. As my colleague Zack Whittaker so eloquently put it, while the Internet got punched in the kidneys, it turns out the Internet is the technological equivalent of Chuck Norris.