Mirai botnet did not knock Liberia's internet offline, say security experts

West African country didn't suffer nationwide outage last week, contrary to reports

Security experts have dismissed last week's reports that Liberia's entire internet infrastructure was taken down by a DDoS attack, stating that this story was "simply not true".

Despite widespread coverage, the claims were debunked by security expert Brian Krebs who found that contrary to reports, the attack did not cause a nationwide outage. He spoke to Daniel Brewer, general manager for the Cable Consortium of Liberia, who told him that "we have no knowledge of a national internet outage and there are [sic] no data to [substantiate] that."

The reports stemmed from security architect Kevin Beaumont, who noticed attacks on Liberian telecoms infrastructure while monitoring the activity of the Mirai botnet. He apparently spoke to an anonymous source withing a local telco, who supposedly confirmed that the country's single submarine internet cable - which Beaumont pointed to a "single point of failure" - was under 500Gbps attacks.

"From monitoring, we can see websites hosted in country going offline during the attacks," he wrote. "Additionally, a source in country at a Telco has confirmed to a journalist they are seeing intermittent internet connectivity, at times which directly match the attack."

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

Many news outlets (including IT Pro) took this to mean that the internet connection for the whole country was under threat, but Brewer emphatically confirmed that this was not the case, stating "both our ACE submarine cable monitoring systems and servers hosted (locally) in LIXP (Liberia Internet Exchange Point) show no downtime in the last 3 weeks."

It appears that the attacks observed by Beaumont were in fact mounted against a mobile telco; one that had a DDoS mitigation service in place to minimise the effects of the attack. While local web performance may have been intermittent, it was decidedly not a nationwide issue.

This was confirmed by cloud and security company Akamai as well as Dyn, the DNS provider that was hit by a much bigger DDoS last month. The company's director of internet analysis tweeted that there was no evidence of any widespread problems.

However, security expert Graham Cluley cautioned that although the Liberian incident was not as bad as initially thought, Mirai and other IoT-based malware still poses a significant threat.

"None of this is to say Mirai that is not a serious threat, of course," he wrote, "and that new botnets based upon its leaked code don't pose a significant threat to internet infrastructure as they exploit poorly-protected IoT devices."

Featured Resources

Digitally perfecting the supply chain

How new technologies are being leveraged to transform the manufacturing supply chain

Download now

Three keys to maximise application migration and modernisation success

Harness the benefits that modernised applications can offer

Download now

Your enterprise cloud solutions guide

Infrastructure designed to meet your company's IT needs for next-generation cloud applications

Download now

The 3 approaches of Breach and Attack Simulation technologies

A guide to the nuances of BAS, helping you stay one step ahead of cyber criminals

Download now
Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/internet/354553/mozilla-slashes-staff-as-subscription-plans-are-delayed
internet

Mozilla slashes staff as subscription plans are delayed

16 Jan 2020
Visit/security/internet-security/354417/avast-and-avg-extensions-pulled-from-chrome
internet security

Avast and AVG extensions pulled from Chrome

19 Dec 2019
Visit/security/354156/google-confirms-android-cameras-can-be-hijacked-to-spy-on-you
Security

Google confirms Android cameras can be hijacked to spy on you

20 Nov 2019

Most Popular

Visit/operating-systems/25802/17-windows-10-problems-and-how-to-fix-them
operating systems

17 Windows 10 problems - and how to fix them

13 Jan 2020
Visit/hardware/354584/windows-10-and-the-tools-for-agile-working
Sponsored

Windows 10 and the tools for agile working

20 Jan 2020
Visit/business-strategy/public-sector/354608/uk-gov-launches-ps300000-sen-edtech-initiative
public sector

UK gov launches £300,000 SEN EdTech initiative

22 Jan 2020
Visit/web-browser/30394/what-is-http-error-503-and-how-do-you-fix-it
web browser

What is HTTP error 503 and how do you fix it?

7 Jan 2020