Last Friday, a DDOS attack set off a shockwave of disbelief when internet users couldn’t access some of their typical websites. Some major websites were affected, along with a few others who rely on the same infrastructure provider, Dyn. Dyn reported repeated DDoS attacks that came in one after another, effectively blocking websites with an overload of junky, fake users. Interestingly, there’s a tie-in through the Mirai botnet malware, which infects IoT devices and uses them to assist as some of the junk clogging up the website victims’ servers. (NOTE: That’s a way oversimplification of the process, but this has to keep moving. There’s a great article here and here about how it actually works.)
Now for the fun part: the tinfoil hat speculation. Within hours of the attack, groups were already claiming that Anonymous had launched it in retaliation for Wikileaks head fugitive Julian Asange having his internet access cut off. Then came much speculation that state-sanctioned Russian operatives were behind it in an attempt to interfere with the US Presidential campaign. There is even some connection to a network operators’ conference in Dallas that morning in which the Director of Internet Analysis for Dyn presented a talk on (you guessed it) DDoS attacks; one of the company’s chief data analysts had also been working on a blog about the very subject and its impact on DNS providers like Dyn.
So is this the new future of both the internet and everyday life? A DDoS attack cripples popular websites when the political tides shift, or when your favorite outlaw-in-hiding makes headlines? It very well might be, and it speaks to the need to make serious changes in both online security and consumer reliance on the internet.