The latest major cyber attack was so big it took a whole country offline

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The entire online infrastructure of Liberia has been taken offline after being targeted in a week long cyber attack.

The attack was a distributed denial of service or DDoS attack – the same kind that caused what is believed to have been one of the largest cyber attacks in history that took place two weeks ago.

DDoS attacks work by using a network of infected computers or connected devices to bombard a website or network with web traffic, overloading its servers until they are unable to cope.

The DDoS attack which took place on the Dyn network in October was on a scale never seen before and resulted in sites such as Twitter, Reddit and Netflix being taken offline.

The attack proved so successful because those responsible were able to also use internet connected devices or devices connected to what is known as the Internet of Things, such as the likes of wireless kettles, CCTV cameras and smart homes systems.

This meant that hackers were able to direct a far greater amount of web traffic to the victim than had previously been thought possible.

Now the same technique, known as the Mira Botnet, has been used to carry out prolonged and sustained attacks on Liberia’s internet infrastructure.

IT security researcher Kevin Beaumont who discovered the attack confirmed it was carried out using the Mira Botnet, ZDNet reported.

“Liberia has one internet cable, installed in 2011, which provides a single point of failure for internet access,” Beaumont said.

“From monitoring we can see websites hosted in country going offline during the attacks… The attacks are extremely worrying because they suggest a Mirai operator who has enough capacity to seriously impact systems in a nation state.”

The cyber attack on Liberia were reportedly over 500gbps in size, which is smaller than the 1,100gbps attack on the Dyn network in October but still among one of the largest attacks ever recorded.

It is unclear who is responsible or the reasons behind the attacks but writing in a post on Medium, Beaumont said: “the attacks are extremely worrying because they suggest a Mirai operator who has enough capacity to seriously impact systems in a nation state.”

A spokesperson for a mobile operator in Liberia told PC World  the attacks have had a major impact on the African country.

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