Cyber warfare: U.S. East coast faces internet service disruption following two cyber attacks

NEW YORK, U.S. - Two highly coordinated cyber attacks managed to disrupt major websites including Twitter, Netflix, Spotify, Amazon, Reddit, Vox and Tumbler in the East Coast of the United States ...

• White House to investigate East Coast cyber attack, no suspects yet

• Cyber attack on Friday morning made DDos popular hashtag topic in U.S.

• U.S. based business firms have long been targeted by hackers

NEW YORK, U.S. - Two highly coordinated cyber attacks managed to disrupt major websites including Twitter, Netflix, Spotify, Amazon, Reddit, Vox and Tumbler in the East Coast of the United States on Friday morning. Internet service provider Dyn first experienced the double whammy. Reports started flooding in when users in the region shared their troublesome experience on social media sites. All the major websites however were reportedly fixed by noon.

Manchester, New Hampshire-based Dyn which provides Internet infrastructure services, including managing DNS activity that connects a user to a website's servers, claimed to have suffered a large-scale of denial of service (DDoS) attack on its domain. A popular website that reports hacking incidents first claimed that internet failure was a result of a massive cyber attack.

Confirming the cyber attacks, Dyn said, “This attack is mainly impacting U.S. East and is impacting managed DNS customers in this region. Our engineers are continuing to work on mitigating this issue.” 

All major websites also disclosed outage that lasted several hours.

Dyn Executive Vice President Scott Hilton said, “Our first priority over the last couple of hours has been our customers and restoring their performance.” 

Cyber attacks have become more frequent over the last few years. After posting several tweets related to this attack on the cyber world, the term DDoS became a top trending hashtag through the day in the U.S.

Spotify mentioned in a Twitter post, “We’re having some issues right now and investigating. We’ll keep you updated!”

Doug Madory, director of internet analysis at Dyn said, “We provide service to Amazon but theirs is a complex network so it is hard to be definitive about causality at the moment.”

Targeting a large DNS provider means to attack a large number of internet users as these firms are responsible for internet traffic. Hackers do use botnets – network of computer to bring it under control, which causes DDos attacks. Hackers also use Remote Access Tool or RAT by providing software to download unintentionally, mostly by sending a link via email or agreeing to download a corrupted file.

Richard Meeus, Vice President of technology EMEA at NSFOCUS, a DDoS mitigation company, said, “DNS has often been neglected in terms of its security and availability from an enterprise perspective – it is treated as if it will always be there in the same way that water comes out of the tap and electricity is there when you switch it on. This attack highlights how critical DNS is to maintaining a stable and secure internet presence, and that the DDOS mitigation processes businesses have in place are just as relevant to their DNS service as it is to the web servers and data centers.”

David Gibson, Vice President of strategy and market development at Varonis said, “Like many of our aging technologies, DNS wasn't built with security in mind. Unfortunately, DNS is a foundation technology for the internet that allows people to connect to internet resources with human names rather than IP addresses (think of them as internet phone numbers), and when its vulnerabilities are exploited attackers can do a lot of damage – computers don't know which 'phone number' to call when you want to connect to a particular site, like Hacker News. DNS is one of the aging technologies the industry is struggling to update, along with one-factor authentication (password-only security), unencrypted web connections – the list is very long, and the stakes have never been higher. Many people and organisations are affected by today's attack and by the email and file (e.g. video) leaks over the past couple months.”

Josh Earnest, White House Press Secretary said that the Department of Homeland Security was monitoring the situation. He added, “At this point I don’t have any information about who may be responsible for this malicious activity.”

Previously Earnest claimed that hackers were infecting routers, printers, smart TVs and other connected devices to build powerful armies of ‘botnets’. This could shut down all websites.

While Russian, Chinese and North Koreans have all been accused in the past of breaching internet security of U.S. based firms, White House and U.S. intelligence had already warned of a major cyber attack on the U.S. However, nobody has claimed this attack so far.


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