Someone successfully shut down many websites Friday, attacking a crucial part of the internet that has been made more vulnerable due to an Obama administration decision to surrender American control, according to experts.
Websites like Twitter, Spotify, Reddit and many others were not working for a large portion of U.S. citizens Friday, after unknown hackers breached the servers of Dyn, a major domain name system (DNS) host. Essentially the “yellow pages” of online addresses, DNS is the technical network that converts web address names into numbers.
“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,” Dyn announced in a published update.
The cyber-crime, which was likely conducted by a syndicate, issued a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, which renders certain networks and websites inaccessible to users. The hacker(s) bombarded part of the internet’s infrastructure by directing several devices and the respective unique Internet Protocol (IP) addresses (the numerical label assigned to every device) to targeted online systems. Dyn’s DNS became inundated with so much traffic, it could no longer facilitate the navigation of the web.
Electronic devices that were likely taken over could be anything with internet capacity, like smartphones, cameras, TVs, and PCs (maybe even toasters).
The perpetrators probably “hijacked the devices by installing the malware and then conscripted them into a ‘botnet,’ which is essentially an army of electronic devices unwittingly controlled by an unauthorized individual or entity,” Jeff Baron, a web pioneer who owned an accredited domain name registrar business, told The Daily Caller News Foundation (TheDCNF).
The botnet is then commanded to simultaneously send data to its target “to disable it like a tsunami flooding and oceanfront building,” Baron continued. The targets here were Dyn’s “authoritative nameservers,” which are machines that oversee the mapping of IP addresses. These nameservers are required for connecting users to the websites they are requesting to access.
“Think of your GPS being shut off while you are traveling to an unfamiliar location in a foreign city,” Baron explained. “Dyn’s nameservers are responsible for over 170,000 domain names and websites including Twitter and Paypal.”