A cyber attack took down popular websites, cutting off access to millions of users around the world for several hours. It appears to have been a case of 'internet vandalism' rather than a state-sponsored attack.
Popular social media, news, and streaming websites, including Twitter, CNN and Netflix, were hit by a cyber attack on Friday, preventing access for millions of users, primarily in the United States.
The attack hit Dynamic Network Services Inc. (Dyn), which maintains domain name servers for some of the world's most visited websites, on Friday morning. Initial outages affected users on the east coast of the United States, but soon spread to the rest of the US and abroad to Europe and Asia. Dyn was hit with multiple denial of service (DDoS) attacks throughout the day.
A senior US intelligence official told US broadcaster NBC that authorities did not believe the attack was state-sponsored, instead identifying it as a case of "internet vandalism."
DDoS attacks flood systems with too much data and slow down or completely prevent access to websites from legitimate users.
Dyn said they had not received any communication from hackers and did not know who was responsible for the attacks. They called them "well planned and executed, coming from tens of millions of IP addresses at the same time."
The attacks came from internet-connected devices, such as printers and webcams, infected with malware that turned them into "bots" that could be used to launch DDoS attacks.
The US Department of Homeland Security was monitoring the situation earlier in the day, but White House spokesman John Earnest said there was no information to share on who could be responsible. Outages monitor downdetector.com showed most of the affected websites were back to normal by 23:45 UTC.
WikiLeaks claimed the attack was being carried out in support of its founder Julian Assange. It asked supporters to stop:
No tweeting, reading, streaming
The attack affected thousands of websites operated through Dyn, including social media, news and streaming services, stores such as Etsy and money transfer service PayPal.
Despite the attack on domain name servers, the websites themselves do not appear to have been affected. "PayPal was not attacked directly, nor were any of our core services to business impacted in the disruption," PayPal spokeswoman Amanda Miller said.
kbd/jm (AFP, dpa, Reuters)