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What if the web goes down and you have no other option to access the websites you so much rely on for breathing in the cyber world. This is what happened past Friday when the giants of the internet such as Twitter, Reddit, Spotify and tonnes of other, apparently vanished from the planet earth for hours after a massive Distributed Denial of Service Attack – DDoS attack.

The attack was directed at Dyn, a firm that hosts domain name system. Basically, domain name system act like the spinal cord and responsible for bringing the website on your screen. When you type an address of a website, it is this system that talks to the IP addresses and open the site on your machine. If this system goes down, the websites would be still running but users wouldn’t see them.

This is what happened yesterday when the attack came from tens of millions of IP address across the world causing the servers to crash for hours.

The Dyn’s servers came under attack in three intermittent sessions spanning over hours.

Techcrunch quotes Kyle York, Dyn’s Chief Strategy Officer who told “the DDoS attack initially targeted the company’s data centres on the East Coast (US), then moved to international data centres. The attack contained specific nuance to parts of our infrastructure.”

What is DDoS?

It is very common but increasingly becoming a dangerous method of knocking websites down and making the good guys incapable of handling it.

The attack is a method of sending too much junk traffic to a site that it becomes inaccessible to a legitimate user. The junk traffic keeps going up to a level where website finds it impossible to cater more requests and it simply crashes.

CNet explains quite easily that the sites or servers hosting them are just like the dams which let pass only the required water  through them. What if someone upstream could send an unexpected torrent down, it will be nearly impossible for the walls of the dam to hold the water and eventually it will spillover after cracking the walls of the dam and turning into flood which will drown everything in the neighbour. Similar is the case with a website which simply crashes and becomes inaccessible to anyone in the world.

Did anyone detect the location or the man behind it?

No, they haven’t yet. The US Department of Homeland Security is investigating but no luck yet. Unlike earlier disasters, the attackers didn’t demand any ransom from the company under attack, Dyn this time. Usually, they ask for bitcoin currency in exchange for leaving the control of their server.

There are nearly 3.4 billion Internet users globally and 10 to 15 billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Most of them such as routers, security cameras are cheap with no or lesser security standards built-in. They can be easily hacked and used for anything, and it looks true for Friday’s attack.

Historically, DDoS attacks have used a giant network of compromised computers for sending junk traffic to a particular location but in the presence of so much IP-based ‘always connected’ devices all over the world, computers are just redundant.

York only hopes for a collective effort to fight the menace which is growing like anything and becoming the most dangerous feature of the Internet.


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