The Day the Internet Went Down
A number of popular websites were recently shut down as a result of being hacked. These attacks were done on Oct. 21, and they essentially shut down the internet for a brief period of time.
Dyn DNS was the target of the attacks, according to Popular Science. They provide a service that allows you to get to the websites you want to view on your phone or computer. Normally, they have a low profile, but if the servers go down as a result of a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, then access to popular internet sites is blocked.
Some of the websites that went down as a result of the attack on Dyn DNS were Etsy, Grubhub, Netflix, Pinterest, Reddit, Spotify and Twitter, according to Gizmodo. However, social media, shopping and media streaming services weren’t the only ones targeted by this attack. Several large news outlets, such as CNN and Fox News, were also targeted by the attack.
It is possible that webcams played a role in the attacks. Products from a Chinese company called Hangzhou Xiongmai Technology are being recalled as a result of Friday’s attacks, according to PC World. The cameras being recalled were not the cause of the attacks, but a security issue on the cameras made them easy to hack. A statement from the company said the main issue was people not changing the passwords that came with the cameras.
Websites have not been the only target of recent hacking issues though. This election cycle has seen the hacking of email accounts run by members of the Democratic Party. John Podesta was recently targeted by a Russian hacking group called Fancy Bear, according to Forbes. His email was hacked as a result of a “spear-phishing” scam in which he clicked a link in an email that seemed legitimate but was not. The link took him to a page where he could change his password. When he put his new password into that site, he unknowingly gave the password to Fancy Bear, and they were able to get access to all of his emails.
This brings cybersecurity into question. Avoiding emails that come off as scams is simple enough. Be aware of what you click on in emails, and if you feel like something is suspicious, you probably shouldn’t click on it without looking into it further.
There’s still the issue of larger hacks like those that happened on Oct. 21 that brought down many websites on the internet. While the issue has been resolved for now, it is still possible for them to be brought down again. “The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is monitoring the situation,” according to U.S. News. There are also firms that offer protection from DDoS attacks so that websites can remain online during the attack, according to Lance Cottrell, a chief scientist for Ntrepid. However, “monthly subscription fees for these services are generally equal to a typical DDoS extortion payment, giving companies little incentive to pay for them.”
So the lesson to be learned from these events is an old one: maintain a password on all of your digital accounts and especially on Internet-connected devices.