GitHub’s website was hit by 1.3 terabits of data per second on Wednesday (February 28), the largest recorded DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack in history.
GitHub is the world’s leading developer platform that boasts of around 20 million online users, most commonly used for open-source coding projects. It has the largest host of source code in the world. It also has the assistance of Akamai Prolexic, one of the world’s best DDoS mitigation services, which is why the company could just walk off the attack even if it was at an unprecedented scale.
DDoS — or distributed denial of service in full — is a cyber attack that aims to bring websites and web-based services down by bombarding them with so much traffic that their services and infrastructure are unable to handle it all. It’s a fairly common tactic used to force targets offline.
The web-hosting service revealed the attack that was targeted on Github in a blog post earlier this week.
The platform suffered intermittent outages before requesting help from Akamai, who took over traffic and began routing it all through its significantly larger servers, easing the strain while also filtering out malicious packets of data. The attackers eventually gave up and GitHub resumed regular service – in less than 10 minutes.
In an incident report about the attack, GitHub wrote, “Between 17:21 and 17:30 UTC on February 28th we identified and mitigated a significant volumetric DDoS attack…The attack originated from over a thousand different autonomous systems (ASNs) across tens of thousands of unique endpoints.”
The attack was at a scale never seen before – the last DDoS attack that came even close to this one was another massive attack on the servers of internet infrastructure company Dyn in late 2016. It peaked at 1.2 Tbps but caused outages and connectivity issues across the United States.