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Attacks against distributed networks are also called DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks
A DDoS is a denial of service attack. This is a computer attack aimed at hijacking systems to block a service.
Denial of service attacks began in the 1980s. DDoS (or Distributed DoS attacks) are reported to be more recent: the first official DDoS attack took place in August 19992: a tool called “Trinoo DDO” (described below) was deployed in at least 227 systems, 114 of which were on the Internet, to flood the University of Minnesota’s servers. As a result of this attack, the university’s Internet access remained blocked for more than two days.
The first DDoS attack mediatized in the mainstream press took place in February 2000, caused by Michael Calce, better known as Mafiaboy. On February 7, Yahoo! was the victim of a DDoS attack that made its Internet portal inaccessible for three hours. On February 8, Amazon.com, Buy.com, CNN and eBay were hit by DDoS attacks that caused them to either stop or slow down significantly. On February 9, E-Trade and ZDNet were in turn victims of DDoS attacks.
Analysts estimate that during the three hours of inaccessibility, Yahoo! suffered a loss on e-commerce and advertising revenues amounting to about $500,000. According to Amazon.com, his attack resulted in a loss of $600,000 over ten hours. During the attack, eBay.com went from 100% availability to 9.4%; CNN.com went below 5% of normal volume; Zdnet.com and ETrade.com were virtually inaccessible. Schwab.com, the online site of broker Charles Schwab, was also affected but refused to give exact figures on its losses. We can only assume that, in a company that makes $2 billion a week in online jobs, the loss has not been negligible. Michael Calce, who hacked into Amazon.com, Yahoo!, CNN and Ebay, was sentenced to eight months in a youth detention centre (he was only 15 years old at the time).