Recently, hackers exploited key vulnerabilities in the Network Time Protocol (NTP) to attack servers based in Europe. NTP, used to synchronize computer clocks, is one of several protocols used within the infrastructure of the internet to keep things running smoothly. First implemented in 1985, NTP is one of the oldest IP protocols still in use both in Unix/Linux and Windows environments. In Unix/linux environments, it runs as the ntpd daemon and under Windows, it runs as a service that is able to synchronise a computer’s clock to the NTP server (Windows Time service/W32Time).
The massive NTP server attack was described by online security specialists Cloudflare as the biggest attack of its kind. Measured at around 400 gigabits per second , the exploit flooded target servers with huge amounts of data through a Distributed Denial of Service (DoS) attack. In a DoS attack, massive amounts of data are directed at a target which is overwhelmed and forced offline, preventing it from carrying out its intended function.