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One of the largest IRC (Internet Relay Chat) networks, EFNet, has come under a denial of service attack, according to reports posted on the organisation's Web site.

According to postings to EFNet.org the attacks started late on Tuesday and have resulted in a number of organisations, such as Cable & Wireless INS and University's disconnecting from the community service. Register readers report trying to connect to the service for hours only to find nearly all its servers were down.

IRC is a non-profit, non-commercial, text-oriented chat environment, which is run by volunteers and is kept alive with donated hardware and bandwidth.

Users are encouraged to establish their own channels and many of the networks provide pre-configured bots which can be used to maintain control of a channel, or will permit users to configure and run their own.

These bots can be malicious, so those networks which permit user-configured bots offer an entertaining environments for malicious script kiddies, and pitfalls for innocent newbies.

Massive, distributed packet floods (DDoS attacks) work well in this environment, but they also devour so much bandwidth that the service providers find themselves donating far more resources than they ever intended. This can result in ISPs and the like withdrawing their support because it's become too expensive.

The attack on EFNet is far from being a one off. As previously reported this January DDoSing script kiddiots launched a wide ranging attack on many IRC networks including Undernet, IRCNet, EFNet, and AustNet.

Such attacks threaten the long term future of IRC if people contributing to the community come to regard it as more trouble than it is worth. That would be a great shame because it threatens the existence of one of the Internet's last commerce-free zones. ®

External Links

EFNet.org

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DDoS attacks threaten Net's last commercial-free zone
BT drops out of IRC
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