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Warning issued over attacks on key Internet infrastructure

San Francisco

KEY parts of the Internet infrastructure face large-scale attacks that threaten the global system of Web traffic, the Internet's address keeper warned on Friday.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) declared after an emergency meeting "an ongoing and significant risk" to key parts of the infrastructure that affects the domains on which websites reside.

"They are going after the internet infrastructure itself," Icann chief technology officer David Conrad told AFP.

"There have been targeted attacks in the past, but nothing like this."

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The attacks could date back to 2017 but have sparked growing concerns from security researchers in recent weeks, which prompted the special meeting of Icann.

The malicious activity targets the Domain Name System or DNS, which routes traffic to intended online destinations.

Icann specialists and others say these attacks have a potential to snoop on data along the way, sneakily send the traffic elsewhere or enable the attackers to impersonate or "spoof" critical websites.

"There isn't a single tool to address this," Mr Conrad said, as Icann called for an overall hardening of web defenses. Icann urged broader implementation of DNSSEC technology, which adds digital signatures that act as virtual seals of sorts to expose when data moving online has been tampered with.

It can also prevent Internet users from being misdirected from intended websites, Icann said.

It is putting out word to website and online traffic handlers to ramp up security or leave users vulnerable to being tricked into trusting the wrong online venues.

US authorities issued a similar warning last month about the DNS attacks. "This is roughly equivalent to someone lying to the post office about your address, checking your mail, and then hand delivering it to your mailbox," the US Department of Homeland Security said in a recent cybersecurity alert."

So-called "DNSpionage" attacks might date back to at least 2017, according to FireEye senior manager of cyber espionage analysis Ben Read.

The list of targets included website registrars and Internet service providers, particularly in the Middle East.

"The attack itself is technically simple, but its scope and targeting of Internet service providers along with large government entities made it "a big deal", he said. AFP

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