2 Sep 2020

MetService site down a day after cyber attack

11:13 am on 2 September 2020

MetService staff remain on "the highest alert" after the forecaster was targeted in a cyber attack yesterday.

Late night internet addiction or working late man using laptop computer in the dark

MetService said it was targeted in a cyber attack yesterday. Photo: 123rf

It has now confirmed that it continues to experience problems with its website as a result of the attack, with all web traffic being redirected to a back-up site.

Yesterday MetService said its security service provider experienced a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack and it was dealt with in a timely manner.

There was no notable loss of performance to any of its digital platforms.

The NZX stock exchange has suffered major disruptions over the past week due to DDoS attacks.

The stock exchange suffered trading halts last week and disruption on Monday for a fifth day, after denial of service attacks took its website offline. The company beefed up its defences with help from the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) and global IT company Akamai.

Andrew Little, the minister overseeing the GCSB, said the NZX and other institutions received messages foreshadowing the attacks. The earliest warnings came through before attacks on the NZX last week, he said.

Sam Curry from the Boston-based cybersecurity technology company Cybereason said the longer an attack goes on the easier it is to work out where it is coming from and neutralise it.

DDoS attacks, which overwhelm websites to slow them down or make them inoperable, have been used against governments and internet service providers elsewhere, as well as Wall Street.

"It's a tool of choice out there," Curry said. "You can think of it as flooding people with garbage ... to mess things up and slow things down."

"Many different systems can be co-ordinated to send garbage traffic, but that can be analysed. It's very hard to make machines behave in truly random ways.

"The longer it's happening ... you can trace it back, if not to its origins, then you can at least figure out the trajectory and put something in place. It shouldn't be having a lasting effect even if it's being carried out for a long time."

There are simple tools and techniques to "shunt aside" the stream of traffic, he said, and government agencies and internet service providers have the ability to analyse where it is coming from.