The cyber attack that brought down many of the world’s biggest internet giants on 21st October 2016 was most likely the largest of its kind in history. This DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack, is a simple but increasingly powerful tool for knocking down websites.
Until recently, DDoS attacks were used to take down smaller targets but now, they have threatened even the world’s biggest internet companies. However, this attack took down multiple major websites for hours.
Here we bring you an account on how DDoS attack affected the world’s internet giants.
What is a DDoS attack?
According to Digital Attack Map, a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack is an attempt done by hackers to make an online service unavailable by overwhelming it with traffic from multiple sources. The attack targets a wide variety of important resources, from banks to news websites, and put a challenge to people in publishing and accessing important information.
How does the attack work?
Dyn, the victim revealed that the attack was launched using a new weapon called the Mirai botnet and this is the primary source of malicious attack.
DDoS attackers build networks of infected computers called botnets by spreading malicious software through emails, websites and social media. When infected, these machines can be controlled with a remote, without their owners’ knowledge, and then used like an army to launch an attack against any target.
Botnets can generate huge floods of traffic to overwhelm a target. These floods of traffic are created in very many ways. These include sending more connection requests than a server can handle, or making a computers send to the target’s servers large amounts of data to overwhelm the targets system.
In many cases, some attacks are so big that they can overwhelm a country’s international cable capacity. So by using a botnet against Dyn, the attackers of this particular DDoS attack were able to target one of the largest pieces of online companies in the country and take down many sites.
Mirai, a piece of malware, works by scanning the internet to take control of devices that still have factory default username and password combinations. This malware, then turns them into bots that can then be used as an army to overload networks and servers with nonsense requests that slow speeds or even lead to total shutdowns.
How DDoS Attack Affected the World’s Internet Giants.
The targeted victim was the servers of Dyn according to a blog published on her website. Dyn is a company that manages the domain name system (DNS) service. Domain name system refers to how computers interpret a web address into the correct numeric machine code corresponding to a given website.
Dyn was hit on 21 October and remained under an instability for most of the day, bringing down many sites whose web traffic is managed by Dyn including Twitter, Spotify, Netflix, Reddit, Etsy, Github and other favorites. Dyn manages all these websites.
Therefore, all company that use Dyn to manage their web traffic, they could have been affected by the attack. However, it is obvious that if a company uses another service provider besides Dyn to manage its web traffic, it was likely not much affected.
Is there a possibility of companies to protect themselves from future attacks like this?
Most companies are in the process of coming up with ideas on how to deal with DDoS attacks. Though there exists some of the tools for dealing with DDoS attacks, there have been signs of increase in the strength and technology of the attacks.
The solution on how DDoS attack affects the world’s internet giants is not yet specified, because hackers are likely building wider and stronger botnets that can send more and more junk traffic to bring down their target sites. Therefore, more technological approaches and ideas have to be installed and carefully thought about in order to stop such attacks from happening in the future.