Multiple Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks from unknown culprits on Dyn caused access to be severely restricted for users on Friday.
Dyn, which manages website domains and routes internet traffic, experienced two distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on its DNS servers. A DDoS attack is an attempt to flood a website with so much traffic that it impairs normal service.
The incident took offline some of the most popular sites on the web, including Netflix, Twitter, Spotify, Reddit, CNN, PayPal, Pinterest and Fox News – as well as newspapers including the Guardian, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.
“If you take out one of these DNS service providers, you can disrupt a large number of popular online services, which is exactly what we’re seeing today,” said Jeremiah Grossman, chief of security strategy at cybersecurity startup SentinelOne.
US officials are investigating the multiple attacks that caused widespread online disruption on both sides of the Atlantic on Friday.
Earlier Friday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the Department of Homeland Security was “monitoring” it.
Dyn said the attack started at 7 am, and was resolved later Friday morning. But issues continued, and by Friday afternoon, Dyn said it was investigating a third attack.
Initially, outages were primarily impacting those on the East Coast. But by midday Friday, people in Europe and other parts of the world were reporting outages as well. Nepal did not receive any direct effect from these DDoS attacks.
“We’ve never really seen anything this targeted [that] impacts so many sites,” said David Jones, director of sales engineering at software IT company Dynatrace. “Typically DDoS attacks are targeted at individual sites. DNS is like a phone book: this is like someone is attacking the phone company and burning all the phone books at the same time.”
Details of how the attack happened remain vague. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack yet. A government official said the U.S. is “looking at all possible scenarios including possible cyber activity.”
On Friday afternoon, WikiLeaks posted a tweet asking its supporters to stop the DDoS attacks, although it was not immediately clear if they were behind it.
These Brutal DDoS Attacks Hint the Beginning of a Bleak Future?
A senior government official told CNN that the DDoS attacks “mainly have resulted only in the slowing down of internet access to various websites on the East Coast.” The official believes these attacks were very crude attempts.
Amazon’s web services division, the world’s biggest cloud computing company, also reported an outage that lasted several hours on Friday morning.
Doug Madory, director of internet analysis at Dyn, said he was not sure if the outages at Dyn and Amazon were connected.
These attacks immediately renewed fears about the security of the Internet’s core infrastructure, particularly with the presidential election – already the subject of hacking concerns – less than three weeks away. If hackers are able to take down the internet at will, what happens next? This could be the beginning of a very bleak future.