The day the internet died: DDoS attacks strike again

26 October 2016

2 min read

The internet is under threat from increasingly sophisticated DDoS attacks – but what makes them so powerful and what will the hackers do next?

The day the internet died: DDoS attacks strike again (Desktop)

Last Friday morning websites and services went down all over the world. Tech giants like Spotify and Twitter were forced offline and were unreachable by their millions of users, all because of a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on Dyn, a major DNS provider who hosted them.

While at the time the details were scarce, the internet has been buzzing with rumours since. Everyone from WikiLeaks sympathisers to political plotters have been blamed. However all we can say for sure is how the attack was delivered.

“Over the past year or two, someone has been probing the defences of the companies that run critical
pieces of the Internet”Bruce Schneier

Security firm Flashpoint have linked it to a network of web-enabled CCTV cameras made by a single company, XiongMai Technologies. The tech was networked together and malware program Mirai used the power of these devices to direct a crippling number of connection requests to Dyn’s DNS servers.

The servers were overwhelmed and after slowing significantly they eventually shut down completely. But how was an attack of this size able to happen? Answer: The Internet of Things.

We love the functionality of internet-enabled devices but how secure are our internet enabled kettles, fridges and phones? Many of them aren’t designed with security in mind. Cyber attackers are getting so sophisticated that they can leverage the power of any unsecured networks. Do most people consider that their router has a password, much less that it has a default password that’s very tempting for hackers.

“Over the past year or two, someone has been probing the defences of the companies that run critical pieces of the Internet. These probes take the form of precisely calibrated attacks designed to determine exactly how well these companies can defend themselves, and what would be required to take them down.” Bruce Schneier, security expert.

With a zombie army of DDoS botnets (devices that are hacked and conscripted into huge attack forces), attacks that target the infrastructure of the internet, instead of taking pot shots at individuals or specific websites, will become more commonplace.
Will there ever come a point when hackers can simply take down the internet at will? At this point it’s unknown what will come next or what the long-term ramifications to businesses and individuals will be.

What we can do is bolster our security and make the most of everything available to us. The UK government is currently offering a £5,000 grant to help small businesses implement its list of recommended IT security policies. Businesses are encouraged to apply to funding competitions to help them develop their efforts.

To learn more about how to make your business as secure as possible, check out our series of cyber security guides here. HP devices are designed with state of the art security features, whether you’re using  HP Secure Managed Print Services or Windows 10 on your HP laptops.

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