If the Internet seems a little slow to you lately, that's because it's in the midst of what is being called the biggest cyberattack of all time, reports the BBC. The fight is between a spam-fighting group, Spamhaus, and a web-hosting company, Cyberbunker, but it has grown to the point that it's affecting the entire Internet and its infrastructure. Millions of users are experiencing delays while trying to reach websites or while using services like Netflix, and experts fear that if the attacks continue to grow in power, people may not be able to access things like email or online banking. It all started when Spamhaus, which publishes a blacklist that email providers use to weed out spam, put Cyberbunker on its list of spammers.
Cyberbunker retaliated, but its attack on Spamhaus ended up having a much larger impact. One architect at a digital content provider likened it to, as the New York Times puts it, using a machine gun in an effort to assassinate one person. The distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks "are essentially like nuclear bombs" that exploit the Internet's Domain Name System (DNS), says an exec at a group that tried to defend against the attacks and ended up becoming a target. "It's so easy to cause so much damage." And, notes the architect, this is "the largest publicly announced DDoS attack in the history of the Internet." Cyberbunker says Spamhaus is a vigilante group "abusing [its] influence," but the architect notes that Cyberbunker is "just mad" that it got caught spamming. One security researcher says the only way to stop the attack is to arrest the people responsible. Five cyber-police forces around the globe are investigating. (Read more Spamhaus stories.)