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VoIP/IP Telephony in Estonia: Disrupted by Botnets?

Dan York

VoIP/IP Telephony in Estonia: Disrupted by Botnets?

With my post earlier this month about the possibility of SIP botnets [also featured here on CircleID], I've had a number of people asking about more information and wondering about the possible impacts. And while will I write more on botnets in general, as far as the potential impact of "botnets" in general, one need only look over at the current situation in Estonia:

Now, perhaps Russia is behind the attack… perhaps not. There are obviously much larger political issues going on between the two states. In the end it doesn't really matter on one level who exactly is behind it… the net of it is that Estonian entities are being attacked in a massive Distributed DoS (DDoS) brought about in part by botnets. For anyone doubting the potential threat, you need only to read through those news articles to understand what can happen.

In fact, I found it interesting that the UK's Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) issued an advisory today about the DDoS attacks against Estonia, mostly to reassure people in the UK that no attacks were currently being seen against UK businesses. It also included two links to previous papers written by NISCC (one of the predecessors to the CPNI) about:

Both make for interesting reading and give some suggestions for how to prepare.

So what does this have to do with telephony? Well, for starters I'll admit to knowing nothing of Tallinn, Estonia, before Skype entered the picture. Skype is, of course, headquarted in Tallinn and through things like their Life at Skype blog have provided a view of Skype as a company, but also of Tallinn and Estonia. Since then I have also learned of other companies coming out of Estonia… certainly seems like an interesting hi-tech place these days. Now I don't know what, if any, disruption Skype has been seeing from these attacks. The distributed p2p nature of Skype would argue for there not being much of an impact (except, obviously, to those right in Estonia), but I don't know.

On a larger level, though, it's just a powerful reminder that the botnet threat is very real out there. And the question is… could your IP telephony infrastructure withstand a botnet attack? Is your larger IT infrastructure up to withstanding some degree of an attack? Do you have multiple VoIP gateways? Could you route around points on your infrastructure that were being attacked? Do you (gasp) have TDM trunks that could work as backups?

I don't know if anyone in Estonia has had their IP telephony disrupted by botnets, but odds are if the attacks are as bad as being reported, some companies probably did. What will you do to ensure your company's IP communication isn't disrupted should botnets come calling?

P.S. For another view on the larger conflict between Estonia and Russia, here's an article (and comments) I found interesting in John Robb's "Global Guerillas" blog: "Russia vs. Estonia: 21st Century State vs State Conflict".

By Dan York, Author and Speaker on Internet technologies. Dan is employed as a Senior Content Strategist with the Internet Society but opinions posted on CircleID are entirely his own. Visit the blog maintained by Dan York here.

Related topics: Cyberattack, Cybercrime, DDoS, P2P, Security, Telecom, VoIP

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