THE BOSS OF UK SPOOK AGENCY GCHQ reckons that he has the solution to the global problem of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks that blight online services: a standard rewrite of the software and code on which ISPs run.
Ian Levy, technical director of GCHQ's National Cyber Security Centre, told The Sunday Telegraph that the organisation is already planning talks with ISPs like BT about this silver bullet, and he is hopeful that it won't turn out to be silver-plated bullshit.
Levy wants to sort out problems like the Mirai botnet that knocked a lot of services offline in October before they get a chance to cause a real problem.
"We think we can get to a point where we can say a UK machine can't participate in a DDoS attack. We think that we can fix the underpinning infrastructure of the internet through implementation changes with ISPs and CSPs [communications service providers]," he said, presumably thinking that no-one would question such a move.
He was wrong. The Sunday Telegraph got right on to the UK Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA), which reckons that Levy is talking out of his ass and that the very suggestion is plain wrong. Well, more or less anyway.
The ISPA actually said that GCHQ is applying a 'we can fix it - it's easy' approach to a complex problem.
We have asked the ISPA if it would like to elaborate on any concerns that it might have and are waiting for a response. The same goes for BT.
GCHQ is looking to tackle a significant danger. In case it missed you, the Mirai attack managed to pull together connected devices such as IP cameras and use them against their owners and a lot of online services.
We asked GCHQ for more information and the department directed us to a blog post by Levy from earlier. Here he makes the same sort of noises.
"I'd like to be able to say that UK machines will not be able to easily participate in a scaled DDoS attack," he said.
"Once we have proved this works, we intend to work with the international ISP and IX community to have similar protections built into other major exchanges to make DDoS and prefix hijacks globally much harder prospects."
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