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Cyber-attacks batter Web heavyweights
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FBI expected to investigate strikes
Tactic 'difficult to address'
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ATLANTA (CNN) -- A series of cyber-attacks Tuesday left some of the Web's most high-profile sites staggering under the weight of tens of thousands of bogus messages.
The targets included retail giant Amazon.com, electronic auction house eBay, discount retailer Buy.com and CNN Interactive.
The "denial of service attack," where hackers jam a Web site with useless messages that tie up the site's computers, slowed the news site's operations for nearly two hours, CNN.com spokeswoman Edna Johnson said.
"We were seriously affected. We were serving content, but it was very inconsistent and very little," Johnson said in a written statement. "By 8:45 p.m., our upstream providers had put blocks in place that are shielding us, and we are now serving content."
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks, which followed a similar strike on the portal Yahoo! on Monday. The FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center is expected to investigate the attacks to try to determine their origin, a senior law enforcement official told CNN late Tuesday.
The tactic used is similar to phone lines being tied up by too many calls, allowing no callers through. At Amazon.com, the premier e-commerce site, spokesman Bill Curry said their site was hit between 8 and 9 p.m. EST.
"Users who tried to log on to Amazon.com experienced slower load time for Web pages, but Amazon was still able to process orders," he said. "A large amount of junk traffic was directed to our site, resulting in degraded service for an hour."
Buy.com -- which had its initial public offering earlier Tuesday -- was down for about three hours. While the site experienced increased traffic as a result of the IPO, a company spokesman said it was not the cause of the Web site's crash -- hackers were.
At the hacked eBay, officials said a preliminary investigation shows that users were unable to view certain pages, like those describing items for auction.
The attacks sent ripples through the Web world.
"This happens by some malicious people writing a computer program that send too, too many requests to a Web site," said Gene Shklar, with Keynote Systems, which measures Web site performance.
The attack on CNN Interactive marked the first major hack on the site since it launched in August 1995. Both CNN and CNN Interactive are owned by Time Warner Inc.
"What better Web site to attack than the Web site of the TV network that's doing news about this very occurrence?" Shklar said.
Richard Power, an official of the Computer Security Institute, said tools have been in place "for a while" for hackers to orchestrate such attacks.
"There have been attacks before, but these are the first highly publicized ones," he said. "Denial of service is one of the most difficult challenges in terms of securing the Internet that we face, actually, and it will be one of the most difficult things to address."
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Federal Bureau of Investigation
National Infrastructure Protection Cente: CyberNotes
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