The Scary Reason Your Internet Was Down Last Night

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It was a normal Friday evening, everybody was doing what they usually do – connecting to Spotify, watching Netflix, tweeting, viewing Reddit. However, for many users in the U.S., most of those websites were unavailable. In fact, there was a DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack on the web’s largest internet performance management companies, Dyn, Inc,

 

Wait what? How? Why?

So many questions. It was a millennial’s worst nightmare, we had to go back to the days of reading books and…talking, joking aside, it was quite scary. DDoS attacks work by overloading servers, so the attacker overloads the system (Dyn’s servers) until that system can’t handle the traffic and forcing a shutdown or a severe slowing of the service.

Because Dyn is the performance management company of so many websites, Amazon, Reddit, Twitter, Paypal, Netflix and Spotify, it felt like a huge attack. Essentially Dyn translates a URL into a language that computers can read so they can communicate with each other. With this service down, many websites failed to load.

Dyn released a statement on Friday saying it began monitoring and mitigating a DDoS attack at 11:10 UTC.

“Starting at 11:10 UTC on October 21th-Friday 2016 we began monitoring and mitigating a DDoS attack against our Dyn Managed DNS infrastructure. Some customers may experience increased DNS query latency and delayed zone propagation during this time. Updates will be posted as information becomes available. This attack is mainly impacting US East and is impacting Managed DNS customer in this region. Our Engineers are continuing to work on mitigating this issue.”

But why? 

Well, nobody is really sure, yet. People are speculating that it is Russia, a move to keep Wikileaks files hidden, the start of WW3…yes, conspiracies are going crazy. Most people have kept a good sense of humor about the whole thing, showing that we can survive some time without the internet before getting irrationally angry. The Department of Homeland Security told CNBC it was “looking into all potential causes” of the attack, NBC News reported that North Korea had been ruled out as a suspect, and The White House said U.S. authorities are monitoring the attack.

Did they steal your passwords?

Short answer, not sure. DDoS attacks just flood a website or network until it shuts down. The attack is carried out to make websites unavailable to users, usually. They can still be used as a diversion to carry out a more malicious attack that will actually steal your data, kind of like a guy standing in front of your house letting off fireworks, while another guy lets himself in your front door and steals all your shit.

And since we don’t know what the motive behind the attack is, it’s a possibility. Most people think the answer is no, that this was primarily to stop certain services, but they’re just not sure why.

Why is it scary?

Well besides the fact it may have been a ‘false flag’ attack while a scarier attack takes place and mines data, the attack made us all very aware of how vulnerable the internet actually is. Our favorite sites can go down in an instant, sophisticated attacks can be carried out even with all the security in place.

Not only that, this attack appears to have been carried out by thousands of internet-connected devices, according to The New York Times. Cameras, baby monitors, and home routers were infected with software that allows hackers to command them to flood a target with traffic. This was all done without our knowledge. How scary is that?

People are worried now, worried that this is part of something larger. A plot to disrupt the online voting system? A cover up? Having lots of passive devices connected to the internet allows hackers to utilize them for attacks like this. Your printer could have turned against you!

What do you think about this? Were you affected?


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Beth

Managing Editor

Beth is the Managing Editor of CGD. She is a graduate of the Penguin Writer's Academy, has published a short story and loves to read creative writing manuals in her spare time.

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