Blue Security Denies Fault in Blog Outage

By Gregg Keizer,

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Blue Security's chief executive last week denied that the server he repointed at a TypePad blog earlier this week brought along a denial of service attack that caused that blogging service, and others hosted by Six Apart, to crash.

"When we changed the domain name server to point to TypePad, there was no traffic flowing into our corporate server at

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" said Eran Reshef, Blue Security's CEO.

"I'm one of the victims here," Reshef said.

The dispute over the whats and hows and whens of the incident, which dropped Six Apart's TypePad, LiveJournal, and MessagePad blogging services offline for approximately 8 hours late Tuesday and early Wednesday U.S. time, was fueled Thursday by analysts who said Reshef's story didn't add up.

Friday, Reshef acknowledged that some of his company's servers had been subjected to a large denial-of-service (DoS) attacks for days, but said those were operational, or back-end, servers, and not connected to his anti-spam company's front door at

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he had denied that any DoS wasunderway.

"I just discovered that today," he said.

"There was no DoS on the corporate server," when he repointed the URL to a dusted-off blog on TypePad's domain to get out the word that the site was unavailable outside Israel, where Blue Security is based.

Reshef had earlier said that a Russian spammer, dubbed "PharmaMaster," had bribed a worker at a "major ISP" to reroute Internet traffic so that no page requests reached Blue Security's Web site from outside the country. Friday, Reshef said that further investigation now led him to believe that a "blackhole filter," a technology often applied in DoS defenses, was maliciously used to block incoming traffic.

Reshef provided TechWeb with copies of Blue Security's Web logs that showed a drop in access from locales outside Israel over an hour and

45 minute span. During the last 7 minutes of that log, only 28 percent of the site accesses originated outside Israel.

"It wasn't the best decision to reroute traffic to TypePad," Reshelf said. But he again defended the repointing, saying that if he had suspected the attacker would follow Blue Security to the TypePad blog, he would have done things differently. "I would have just put out a press release," he said.

Reshef said that TypePad readers were able to add comments to the blog for at least 30 minutes after Blue Security repointed its servers. Blue Security redirected its site to TypePad at 11:20 p.m. (GMT) on Tuesday, May 2, he said. But comments were posted from

11:27 to 11:57 p.m., at which point the string broke, not to be resumed for more than two hours. Six Apart said this week that the DoS attack began at approximately 4:00 p.m. PDT (midnight GMT, May 3), or about 40 minutes after Blue Security said their site was redirected. "If the site [] had been under attack [when we redirected], packets would have reached TypePad within minutes," Reshef said. That users were able to reach the blog and leave comments proves that Blue Security did not drag an ongoing DoS attack to TypePad and Six Apart.

But when asked if he had contacted Six Apart prior to repointing his corporate site, or informed them that other company servers were currently under attack at the time, he only answered "I'm not saying this was the smartest move."

For its part, San Francisco-based Six Apart refused to divulge details of the attack's timeline. "We're not pointing the finger at anyone," said Jane Anderson, a spokesperson for Six Apart. "No, we've not contacted Blue Security, but we have been in touch with the FBI. This [DoS] was a criminal event, and we intend to follow up."

One possible explanation for the mysterious drop-off in incoming traffic to

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-- which was what led Reshef and his company to redirect the URL to TypePad -- is that Blue Security's own Israeli ISP shut down traffic to block a building DoS.

Todd Underwood, the chief of operations and security at Manchester, N.H.-based Renesys, an Internet monitoring and routing analysis firm, said Friday that it's possible that Blue Security's ISP used a blackhole filter to stem an outside attack.

"It's entirely plausible that NetVision put a black hole filter in place," said Underwood, "if they were seeing large numbers of packets aimed at Blue Security and didn't want to drag the traffic all the way from, say, New York."

NetVision, which has offices in Tel Aviv and Haifa, Israel, was not available due to the time difference.

"No, I haven't talked with NetVision," said Reshelf, who confirmed that NetVision was his company's ISP. "They haven't called us, either."

Reshef said he and others at Blue Security had been too busy dealing with the crisis this week to find out if NetVision had activated a blackhole filter. He acknowledged, however, that it was a "possible explanation."

"If that's what happened, and they haven't told us about it for four days, then I will have to have a long talk with them," Reshef said.

Copyright 2005 CMP Media LLC

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