Attacks Have Major Internet Sites on the Ropes

An attack on the DNS service Dyn is making it tough to reach Twitter, Spotify, HBO Now, Reddit and other popular Internet sites and services.

Brian Santo, Senior editor, Test & Measurement / Components, Light Reading

October 21, 2016

2 Min Read
Attacks Have Major Internet Sites on the Ropes

As yet unidentified hackers spent much of the day assailing Dyn with an onslaught of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. The attacks, which started at the beginning of the business day on the US East Coast, took down several prominent websites or made them grind incredibly slowly.

Dyn repelled the first attack, but just minutes after saying it had restored order, the service was overwhelmed by a second DDoS assault. The company regularly posts Internet security updates; as of midday, its most recent one read: "This DDoS attack may also be impacting Dyn Managed DNS advanced services with possible delays in monitoring. Our Engineers are continuing to work on mitigating this issue." In a subsequent post at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time, the company said it was still investigating the attack.

Sites said to have been affected during the first attack include Twitter, Spotify, HBO Now and Reddit, among many others. While the company was fending off the second attack, its own web site was intermittently inaccessible.

Dyn is a juicy target for hackers. The company is one of the country's largest providers of DNS hosting services. Furthermore, through that business, the company has developed some formidable expertise in cybersecurity. The attackers are no doubt enjoying the irony of undermining a company that has published a book called Understanding and Mitigating DDoS Attacks.

Want to know more about Internet security, hacking, and cyberwarfare? Check out our security channel here on Light Reading.

According to a survey Dyn sponsored and published in August, the majority of companies surveyed calculate that an Internet outage costs them a minimum of $1,000 a minute.

There is still no indication of who the hackers are; at this writing, no one has claimed responsibility. There are any number of individuals who like to test their programming mettle. There are hacker groups that work in concert, occasionally professing a political motivation for their hacks.

And in recent years, cyberwarfare activity has increased. The US, China and Russia all have active programs; working directly but sometimes merely encouraging otherwise unaffiliated hacker collectives. North Korea is believed to be the source of the hack of Sony a few years back. The US intelligence community is certain that Russia is using information it has gleaned from previous hacks to deliberately meddle in the current US presidential election.

— Brian Santo, Senior Editor, Components, T&M, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Brian Santo

Senior editor, Test & Measurement / Components, Light Reading

Santo joined Light Reading on September 14, 2015, with a mission to turn the test & measurement and components sectors upside down and then see what falls out, photograph the debris and then write about it in a manner befitting his vast experience. That experience includes more than nine years at video and broadband industry publication CED, where he was editor-in-chief until May 2015. He previously worked as an analyst at SNL Kagan, as Technology Editor of Cable World and held various editorial roles at Electronic Engineering Times, IEEE Spectrum and Electronic News. Santo has also made and sold bedroom furniture, which is not directly relevant to his role at Light Reading but which has already earned him the nickname 'Cribmaster.'

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