The new generation of botnet attacks is here, and it was unveiled with an attack on the gambling sites of Gala Coral that forced them offline for almost half an hour. Perhaps the most worrying aspect isn’t that it was carried out, but the way it was conducted. The attack, which involved around 30,000 PCs and Macs, was disguised by the criminals who analyzed and reproduced the behavior of the site’s typical customers, meaning the buildup couldn’t be spotted beforehand. Gala Coral’s E-Commerce’s information security officer Peter Bassill told ZDNet that a huge amount of planning had gone into the attack. The criminals had spent several months setting up accounts using stolen credit card details. The large number of accounts was necessary in order to generate the type of traffic that would overwhelm the site’s servers. That would be bad enough, but in a second attack the botnet halted the website’s attempt to stop it using a port firewall. As it did so it still sent out attack data. Gala Coral’s sites are brought down in attacks a couple of times a year, Bassill said, and explained the attacks were often preceded by blackmail demands for sums in excess of $100,000. But the size and organization of this attack was on a different scale, he said. "This is a very worrying step we have seen in botnets; we have no way of responding to this without working with law enforcement. The attacks will come from many hosts in small volumes and they are going to be very hard to spot. If they can do that to us, a large gaming company, then think what they could do if they find a way to target companies like BT or the nuclear-power industry."
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