Dutch citizens keep extra cash at hand following DDoS attacks

Posted by   Virus Bulletin on   May 22, 2013

Month-long attacks had significant impact.

25% of Dutch citizens have followed advice to keep extra cash at home, following a recent spate of DDoS attacks on Dutch banks.

At the beginning of April, customers of Dutch bank ING reported that the balance of their online bank account wasn't what they expected it to be, with the difference in some cases running to hundreds of euros. Some customers even reported that they were unable to pay using chip-and-pin as a consequence. Initially, the bank blamed the issue on a technical error, and reassured its customers that no money had disappeared.

While the bank appears to have been right on the latter account, it later changed its statement and revealed that the issues had been caused by a DDoS attack. And that was just the beginning: the attacks spread to other banks, taking down their websites and online payment systems. They also took down iDEAL, a widely used online payments system.

Over the next few weeks, as many other organisations were targeted by similar attacks, DDoS became a prime item on the news - making knowledge of DDoS attacks among the Dutch population more widespread than in any other country (with the possible exception of Estonia). Victims included the country's largest newspaper, the tax and customs administration, and various government services, including DigiD, an identity management platform for Dutch citizens on the Internet. The attacks led to DigiD temporarily being closed for access from abroad.

Although no new attacks have been reported since 8th May, the impact of the attacks on the country - where Internet penetration is extremely high - has been significant. It has led many people to wonder whether they have become too dependent on online services.

The attacks also prompted advice from Nibud, a charity that aims to make families more aware of their finances, to keep some extra cash at hand. Taken out of context, this might seem overly paranoid. However, the attacks have shown that, despite all their benefits, online payment systems create a single point of failure. Being too dependent on them might not be a good idea. Nibud found that 75% of people were aware of their advice - and 25% had actually followed it.

Two important questions about the attacks remain unanswered: who was behind them? And why did they do it?

Although in the past DDoS attacks have been used to hide theft or to extort money from the targeted sites, the scale, variation and longevity of these attacks make these unlikely reasons.

Of course, the attacks could have been performed by an organisation that holds a grudge against the Netherlands, simply to 'make a point'. There have been suggestions that the attacks are a retaliation against the arrest in Spain and subsequent extradition to the Netherlands of Sven Olaf Kamphuis, himself accused of orchestrating DDoS attacks against Spamhaus.

While Kamphuis's supporters would have a reason for the attacks, it wouldn't explain why they started three weeks before Kamphuis's arrest - or why they have stopped, while Kamphuis remains in custody.

Perhaps the real reason for the attacks will never be known. But they have certainly taught Dutch citizens how important online services have become and how dependent many are on them - and that this isn't always a good thing.

Posted on 22 May 2013 by Martijn Grooten

twitter.png
fb.png
linkedin.png
hackernews.png
reddit.png

 

Latest posts:

VB2018 paper: Analysing compiled binaries using logic

Constraint programming is a lesser-known technique that is becoming increasingly popular among malware analysts. In a paper presented at VB2018 Thaís Moreira Hamasaki presented an overview of the technique and explained how it can be applied to the…

Virus Bulletin encourages experienced speakers and newcomers alike to submit proposals for VB2019

With a little less than a month before the deadline of the call for papers for VB2019, Virus Bulletin encourages submissions from experienced speakers and newcomers alike.

VB2018 paper: Internet balkanization: why are we raising borders online?

At VB2018 in Montreal, Ixia researcher Stefan Tanase presented a thought-provoking paper on the current state of the Internet and the worrying tendency towards raising borders and restricting the flow of information. Today we publish both his paper…

The malspam security products miss: banking and email phishing, Emotet and Bushaloader

The set-up of the VBSpam test lab gives us a unique insight into the kinds of emails that are more likely to bypass email filters. This week we look at the malspam that was missed: banking and email phishing, Emotet and Bushaloader.

VB2018 paper: Where have all the good hires gone?

The cybersecurity skills gap has been described as one of the biggest challenges facing IT leaders today. At VB2018 in Montreal, ESET's Lysa Myers outlined some of the things the industry can do to help address the problem. Today we publish Lysa's…

We have placed cookies on your device in order to improve the functionality of this site, as outlined in our cookies policy. However, you may delete and block all cookies from this site and your use of the site will be unaffected. By continuing to browse this site, you are agreeing to Virus Bulletin's use of data as outlined in our privacy policy.