1,200 INSTITUTIONS from across Europe – including banks, internet providers and governments – are today being hit by a deliberate ‘cyber’ attack.
The deliberate attack is part of an EU-wide experiment to see how institutions would handle a sustained malicious attack – and aims to identify what measures are needed to avoid such an attack happening in real life.
The simulated ‘distributed denial of service’ attack (DDoS) attack sees sites deliberately bombarded with page requests – a tactic which means legitimate web traffic is squeezed out and cannot be processed. Typically the goal of the attack is to send a site offline altogether.
Larger sites regularly attract unsuccessful DDoS attacks, though coordinated attacks on a larger scale are becoming more regular occurrences. Earlier this year several Irish government websites were knocked offline by such an attack.
If such a co-ordinated attack was to be effective in real life, it could result in massive disruption for millions of people across Europe, and cost billions in lost economic output.
“This is the first time banks and internet companies have been part of an EU-wide cyber-attack exercise,” Neelie Kroes, the European Commission for the Digital Agenda, said.
“This cooperation is essential given the growing scale and sophistication of cyber-attacks.
“Working together at European level to keep the internet and other essential infrastructures running is what today’s exercise is all about.”