- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 23, 2002

ASSOCIATED PRESS

An unusually powerful electronic attack briefly crippled nine of the 13 computer servers that manage global Internet traffic this week, officials disclosed yesterday. But most Internet users didn't notice because the attack only lasted one hour.

The FBI and White House were investigating. One official described the attack Monday as the most sophisticated and large-scale assault against these crucial computers in the history of the Internet. The origin of the attack was not known.

Seven of the 13 servers did not respond to legitimate network traffic, and two others failed intermittently during the attack, officials confirmed.

The FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center was "aware of the denial of service attack and is addressing this matter," spokesman Steven Berry said.

Service was restored after defensive measures were enacted and the attack suddenly stopped.

The 13 computers are spread geographically across the globe as precaution against physical disasters and are operated by U.S. government agencies, universities, corporations and private organizations.

"As best we can tell, no user noticed, and the attack was dealt with and life goes on," said Louis Touton, vice president for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the Internet's key governing body.

Computer technicians who manage some of the affected computers, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said they were cooperating with the White House through its Office of Homeland Security and the President's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board.

Richard Clarke, President Bush's top cyber-security adviser and head of the protection board, has warned for months that an attack against the Internet's 13 so-called root server computers could be dramatically disruptive.

These experts said the attack, which started about 4:45 p.m. Monday, transmitted data to each targeted root server 30 to 40 times normal amounts. One said that just one additional failure would have disrupted e-mails and Web browsing across parts of the Internet.

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