Hit by Computer Attack

By Scott Hogenson | July 7, 2008 | 8:04 PM EDT

( - The Cybercast News Service - - was hit by a prolonged computer attack Thursday evening and Friday, resulting in temporary disruptions in its service to readers, officials with the newswire said.

The attacks involved attempts to "hack" through the newswire's security firewall, as well as various "denial of service" attacks, in which one or more computers automatically generate a high volume of traffic designed to overload a website's server, effectively shutting down the site.

Brief service interruptions in access to the news service's various sections were the result of additional measures to prevent further attacks rather than the attacks themselves, according to officials with the newswire.

"The firewall was denying a large amount of traffic," said Mark Schultz, president of Special Systems, Inc., a technical consulting group for "We have rules to filter out attacks of damaging content designed to bring down the website."

Schultz said the denial of service attacks were pre-empted by "isolating those who were attempting to do that and denying them access to our network."

It was this isolation process that resulted in certain news sections experiencing temporary interruptions, Schultz said.

Although it's not known who orchestrated the attacks on the news service, Schultz said the IP addresses of the computers involved were traced to the San Francisco, San Jose and Orlando areas.

Schultz also noted that it's possible to forge the IP address of a computer terminal to disguise the true geographic origin of an attack.

There were no reports from clients of any interruptions in the news wire's Cybercast Streaming News Service, according to Todd Stromberg, director of new business development. "Nobody's losing service because of the hacking," said Stromberg.

Schultz said the attacks were continuing into Friday afternoon, but that measures taken earlier in the day were preventing additional service outages and thwarting continued efforts to compromise the news service. was launched in 1998 and has bureaus in Jerusalem, London, the Pacific Rim and Capitol Hill, in addition to its world headquarters in Alexandria, Va. The newswire has a combined readership of about 300,000 people each weekday, based on data from the website's internal hit report and those of its Cybercast clients.

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