Of course we all see ourselves as tech geeks (a little bit!) But after the massive cyber attack that shut down major sites such as Twitter, Spotify, and PayPal yesterday, we’re realizing we might be in over our heads with this Internet thing! But have no fear, the real tech kings and queens have got some explanations about exactly what happened and how we can prevent the next attack.
On Friday, hackers used a system of smart devices (such as cameras and DVRs) to attack specific internet infrastructure. This hacking lead to major problems for some of the most popular websites. This attack was orchestrated by using malware to infect and influence devices such as televisions, coffeemakers, routers, webcams and other devices connected to the internet.
Yes, you heard that right, your Internet-connected coffeemaker might have just tried to destroy the Web.
According to Wired (whose servers were also involved in the attack), around 7 a.m. EST Dyn, an Internet infrastructure company headquartered in New Hampshire was targeted. Dyn is a DNS service (internet “phone book”) that directs users to the internet address where the website is stored.
These services are an important part of a website’s infrastructure. Basically, the hackers took their whole infected army of our Internet devices, pointed it at Dyn, and overwhelmed it with service requests… you know how Netflix crashes if there are too many people watching at once? Same idea, except instead of just one site, a server that helps run a ton of sites was the target.
After two hours, a second attack occurred on Dyn just before noon. Then around 4 pm ET, Dyn reported a third wave of attacks. In the beginning Dyn’s Internet directory servers felt the hit, primarily on the East Coast. But later on the West Coast was inconvenienced by a flood of malicious requests from tens of millions of IP addresses disrupting the system.
The good news is there are things we can do to help slow or weaken Internet attacks.
While no measure is perfect, you can help keep your devices from being infected and used against you by keeping all of your machines updates as much as possible. When they send out updates don’t ignore those because the companies are constantly updating their systems to stem off attacks. Just like that, you can help save the Internet.