U.S. in­ter­net re­peat­edly dis­rupted by cy­ber­at­tacks

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - BUSINESS - By Raphael Sat­ter AP Cy­ber­se­cu­rity Writer

LON­DON » Cy­ber­at­tacks on a key in­ter­net firm re­peat­edly dis­rupted the avail­abil­ity of pop­u­lar web­sites across the United States Fri­day, ac­cord­ing to an­a­lysts and com­pany of­fi­cials. The White House de­scribed the dis­rup­tion as ma­li­cious.

Manch­ester, New Hamp­shire­based Dyn Inc. said its server in­fra­struc­ture was hit by dis­trib­uted de­nial-of-ser­vice at­tacks, which work by over­whelm­ing tar­geted ma­chines with junk data traf­fic. The at­tack had knockon ef­fects for users try­ing to ac­cess pop­u­lar web­sites from across Amer­ica and even in Europe. Among the sites ap­par­ently af­fected were Twit­ter, Net­flix, and Sony’s Play-Sta­tion Network.

The level of dis­rup­tion was dif­fi­cult to gauge, but Dyn pro­vides in­ter­net traf­fic man­age­ment and op­ti­miza­tion ser­vices to some of the big­gest names on the web, in­clud­ing Twit­ter, Net­flix and Visa. Crit­i­cally, Dyn pro­vides do­main name ser­vices, which trans­late

the hu­man-read­able ad­dresses such as “twit­ter. com” into an on­line route for browsers and ap­pli­ca­tions.

Steve Grob­man, chief tech­nol­ogy of­fi­cer at In­tel Se­cu­rity, com­pared an out­age at a do­main name ser­vices com­pany to tear­ing up a map or turn­ing off GPS be­fore driv­ing to the de­part­ment store. “It doesn’t mat­ter that the store is fully open or op­er­a­tional if you have no idea how to get there,” he said in a tele­phone in­ter­view.

Ja­son Read, founder of the in­ter­net per­for­mance mon­i­tor­ing firm Cloud-Har­mony, owned by Gart­ner Inc., said his com­pany tracked a half-hour-long dis­rup­tion early Fri­day in which roughly one in two end users would have found it im­pos­si­ble to ac­cess var­i­ous web­sites from the East Coast. A sec­ond at­tack later

in the day caused dis­rup­tion to the East and West Coasts as well as im­pact­ing some users in Europe.

“It’s been pretty busy for those guys,” Read said. “We’ve been mon­i­tor­ing Dyn for years and this is by far the worst out­age event that we’ve ob­served.”

Read said Dyn pro­vides ser­vices to some 6 per­cent of Amer­ica’s For­tune 500 com­pa­nies. That means a lot of dis­rup­tion.

“It im­pacted quite a few users,” he said of the morn­ing’s at­tack.

A full list of af­fected com­pa­nies wasn’t im­me­di­ately avail­able, but ma­jor sites in­clud­ing Twit­ter and coder hang­out Github said they briefly ex­pe­ri­enced prob­lems ear­lier Fri­day.

For James Nor­ton, the for­mer deputy sec­re­tary at the De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity who now teaches on cy­ber­se­cu­rity pol­icy at Johns Hop­kins Uni­ver­sity, the in­ci­dent was an ex­am­ple of how at­tacks on key junc­tures in the network can yield mas­sive dis­rup­tion.

“I think you can see how frag­ile the in­ter­net network ac­tu­ally is,” he said.

Dyn said in a se­ries of state­ments that it first be­came aware of the at­tack around 7:00 a.m. lo­cal time and that ser­vices were re­stored about two hours later. A lit­tle more than two hours later, the com­pany said it was work­ing to mit­i­gate an­other at­tack. A Dyn spokesman didn’t re­spond to ques­tions seek­ing fur­ther in­for­ma­tion about the on­line on­slaught.

The U.S. De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity is mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told re­porters Fri­day. He said he had no in­for­ma­tion about who may be be­hind the dis­rup­tion.

Se­cu­rity ex­perts have re­cently ex­pressed con­cern over in­creas­ing power of de­nial-of-ser­vice at­tacks fol­low­ing high-pro­file elec­tronic as­saults against in­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ist Brian Krebs and French in­ter­net ser­vice provider OVH.

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