A denial of service attack has knocked out Twitter, Netflix, and other large corporate websites.
Wait for it.
Russia will probably be blamed.
A major cyberattack against an internet directory knocked dozens of popular websites offline today, with outages continuing into the afternoon.
Twitter, SoundCloud, Spotify, Shopify, and other websites have been inaccessible to many users for most of the morning. The outages are the result of a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on the DNS provider Dyn, the company confirmed. The outage was first reported on Hacker News.
According to the White House, the Department of Homeland Security is looking into the outage.
Bruce Schneier, a technology expert, wrote in September he thinks a state actor is probing Internet vulnerabilities ahead of an effort to take down the Internet.
Who would do this? It doesn’t seem like something an activist, criminal, or researcher would do. Profiling core infrastructure is common practice in espionage and intelligence gathering. It’s not normal for companies to do that. Furthermore, the size and scale of these probes — and especially their persistence — points to state actors. It feels like a nation’s military cybercommand trying to calibrate its weaponry in the case of cyberwar. It reminds me of the US’s Cold War program of flying high-altitude planes over the Soviet Union to force their air-defense systems to turn on, to map their capabilities.
He mentions China, but that doesn’t fit the current narrative Russia’s behind the latest spate of cyber attacks and is attempting to sabotage the American selection, excuse me, election.
It’s a foregone conclusion Russia is to blame for cyber attacks. From The Washington Post in mid-September:
Russian hackers appear to be pushing the limits. In recent weeks, the apparent targets have included the electronic files of the Democratic National Committee, the private emails of former secretary of state Colin Powell, and personal drug-testing information about top U.S. athletes.
The Obama administration is considering how to respond. As in most strategic debates, there’s a split between hawks and doves. But there’s a recognition across the U.S. government that the current situation, in which information is stolen electronically and then leaked to damage and destabilize U.S. targets, is unacceptable.
Last week Joe Biden issued a threat. He said the national security state will respond to meddlesome Russian hackers “at the time of our choosing” and “under the circumstances that have the greatest impact.”
The CIA is already on the case. “Intelligence officials told NBC News that CIA has already begun ‘opening cyber doors, selecting targets and making other preparations for an operation,’” the New York Post reported after Biden made his remarks.
The ultimate decision on whether to launch to cyber attack would rest with President Obama, officials said. Sources told NBC News that there are diverging view within the administration about how to proceed.
“I think unless we stand up to this kind of cyber attack from Russia, we’ll only see more and more of it in the future,” Admiral Stavridis said.
Obama? Probably not.
Bet on it.