Defense

Security experts: Foreign nation not behind Friday internet attack

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The attack Friday targeting internet company Dyn that briefly knocked Netflix, Twitter and The New York Times offline was not the work of state actors, says a new report. 

After the attack, speculation over who was behind the attack swirled around Russia. That was fueled, in part, by the seeming enormity of the attack.

But the security firm Flashpoint released evidence Tuesday that the attack was likely the work of low-level cyber mischief makers. 

{mosads}“From the perspective of America, it was a big deal,” said Allison Nixon, Flashpoint’s director of security research. “From the perspective of the people who launch these things, it’s just a number on a command line.”

Flashpoint first identified that the attackers used a tool called Mirai to run their offensive against the company, Dyn.  

Mirai leverages vast networks of internet-connected devices to overwhelm target servers with internet traffic – what is known as a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. 

Dyn functions like an internet switchboard to help route users to websites they would like to visit. Without it, users could not reach their destinations. 

But Dyn was not the only target of the attackers, reports Flashpoint. The attackers were simultaneously launching an offensive against a video game company – not a likely target for a nation-state.  

In fact, said Nixon, the attack was only “incrementally different” from other malicious pranks headed by visitors to the hacker forum Hackforums, where the source code for the tool used in the attack can be downloaded for free. 

DDoS attacks are a favorite tool of activists and the internet equivalent of vandals because they are simple to launch and do not require the skill it takes to breach a server.

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