Well since we are experiencing a huge Internet kerfluffle today, I wanted to take some time to explain it a bit and help you with what you can do or might do in the future.
Today a company named Dyn was suffering what is called a DDoS attack. Dyn does most of its business on the infrastructure of the Internet. In this particular case, it was having its DNS service attacked. DNS stands for Domain Name Service and it is the software that translates the URLs that you type in (for example http://jimsackman.com) into IP addresses. Yes, there is more to it than that. But for most people that are a reasonable enough understanding of what it is. So, today you were probably seeing DNS failures for some websites. This was not on your end. Dyn was unable to translate your request into something your computer could use in a reasonable time.
The reason for this is what is called a DDoS attack. DDoS stands for Distributed Denial of Service. If you are older (like me), you might remember trying to call your mother on Mother’s Day and getting an “All Circuits are Busy.” message. Well, that is exactly what a Denial of Service attack is. The idea is to swamp the service with so many requests that very few, if any, get serviced. Since it is relatively easy to restrict access from a single server, people changed the attack to be distributed. This means that the attack came from many places at once and was started by some form of command and control action. Think of this as many computers being infected and they all send out attacks because a 3rd party told them to. That is a DDoS.
Why attack Dyn? Well, it is one of the more well-known companies in the Internet Infrastructure business and it has a business in cyber security. Dyn has published books on how to defeat DDoS attacks. So, this could make the hacker famous or more likely infamous. There are places on the Intenet where these people gather to share war stories about triumphing over evil or companies or just for the thrill of having done it. But it does point out a couple of more challenging issues with being solely dependent on the Internet.
One last note today for your evaluation. Many of these Internet-connected systems are what are called Embedded Applications. These are devices that sit on the Internet to do what you want them to do. These are devices from Connected Cars to that Ring Camera-Doorbell item to Webcams. All of them have a special vulnerability to hacking because nobody takes a look to see if they are infected. This means that hackers might have millions of more computers to go after to run these attacks. Something to think about.
Have a great weekend!
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