The Internet has revolutionized communications to an extent that, up until recently, was unimaginable. The worldwide web allows users around the globe to share all kinds of information or to simply chat a while about any topic. A large number of websites allow users to access chats and many different types of chats are available, but the most-widely used, due to its efficiency, is IRC (Internet Relay Chat).
IRC servers allow channels (or chatrooms) to be set up for different topics. Therefore, there could be channels about the economy, politics, society or any other topic of interest. Users can access these channels through an IRC client, an application that allows users to access the server hosting the channel they want to access.
Millions of users worldwide access the different IRC channels every day, the majority of them with the sole aim of chatting for a while. However, other users access the channels in order to annoy the rest of the users. This aim can be achieved through many different means, even though the end object is always the same: expel a user from an IRC chat channel.
The different techniques that can be used include nuke attacks. There are various types of nuke attacks, although the majority of them are based on sending specially-crafted data packets, so that the system that receives them cannot process them. As a result, the connection is lost and the user is disconnected from the IRC server. Most nuke attacks are carried out by exploiting flaws in operating systems when handling certain communications protocols.
Flood attacks are another type of attack that aims to expel users from chatrooms. These consist of sending information to the target computer, so that when it replies, it sends indiscriminate data to the server. As IRC servers limit the amount of information they can receive, when they detect a massive data flow, they automatically disconnect the computer that has sent it.
How to protect your computer when using IRC
- The majority of attacks via IRC can be prevented using firewalls, both hardware and software. If the firewall detects an unusual flow of data through any of the communications ports, it will immediately block it.
- It is also highly recommendable to keep updated about the new flaws detected in operating systems and the software installed on your computer that can be used to carry out attacks via IRC. To do this you should subscribe to a security bulletin. Similarly, you should also regularly visit the websites of the manufacturers of the software installed on your computer, where you will find all the patches needed to correct the security problems detected.