IoT is risk to networks; Netflix, PayPal, Twitter and Amazon temporarily shut in cyber attack


MUMBAI: Nobody is safe until everybody is safe, it is said. The most hyped and happening currency in the world of communication as well as the best weaponry in the wireless world -- the Internet -- was under attack. Cyber attackers can DDoS (Distributed denial of service) for a range of purposes, including censorship, protest and extortion.

Users in Europe and Asia may, however, experience fewer problems than those in the U.S.

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security are investigating the disruption that appears to be the result of repeated attacks on a critical internet infrastructure service.

Major internet services including Amazon, Twitter, Spotify, Reddit, SoundCloud, OTT services like Netflix, and Airbnb, suffered severe service interruptions and outages on Friday as a US internet provider came under a cyber attack. The attack meant that millions of internet users could not access the websites of major online companies.

Other sites experiencing issues include Boston Globe, New York Times, Box, Github, Freshbooks, Heroku and Vox Media properties.

A map published by the website downdetector.com showed service interruptions for Level3 Communications, which is dubbed as the "backbone" internet service provider, across much of the US east coast and in Texas. Dyn, the internet service company, which manages and routes internet traffic, said that it had suffered a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on its domain name service shortly after 1100 GMT. The service was restored in about two hours, Dyn said.

The website Gizmodo said it had received reports of difficulty at sites for media outlets including CNN, The Guardian, Wired, HBO and People as well as the money transfer service PayPal. Dyn, which is headquartered in New Hampshire (US), said the attack went after its domain name service, causing interruptions and slowdowns for internet users. Dyn said it was continuing to investigate.

Amazon Web Services, which hosts some of the famed sites, including the homestay network Airbnb, and Netflix, said on its website that users experienced errors including "hostname unknown" when attempting to access hosted sites but that the problem had been resolved by 1310 GMT.

Domain name servers are a crucial element of internet infrastructure, converting numbered Internet Protocol addresses into the domain names that allow users to connect to internet sites. DDoS attacks involve flooding websites with traffic, making them difficult to access or taking them offline entirely.

Carbon Black founder and a former NSA engineer said that the internet continues to rely on protocols and infrastructure designed before cyber security was an issue. He said that growing interconnection of ordinary devices to the internet, the so-called "internet of things," increased the risks to networks.

Dyn chief strategy officer Kyle York told ABC News that DDoS attacks are daily occurrences, but this one is "just incredibly sophisticated and complex."

DDoS attacks are generally unsophisticated in nature. Akamai security advocate Martin McKeay said that anyone from a young hacker messing around, to hackivists, to a criminal organization or even a nation state could be behind the attack.

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