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'Internet of Things' May Have Led to Massive Server Attacks

30 October 2016

On Friday, it came under attack - a distributed denial of service (DDoS) - which relies on thousands of machines sending co-ordinated messages to overwhelm the service.

Devices like DVRs and routers that were infected with a malware are at least somewhat responsible for Friday's cyber attack that took down major websites like Twitter, Spotify, Amazon and Paypal, according to the security intelligence company Flashpoint.

Dyn provides domain name server services to websites, part of the infrastructure that makes the internet easy for everyone to use. They also reported that the online cyber attack started on the East Coast but spread westward throughout the day. She also added that those home devices used in the attacks were made by XiongMai Technologies, a Chinese hi-tech company.

US Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are investigating the breach. It still isn't clear where exactly the cyber-attack originated. Research from the cybersecurity firm Flashpoint said Friday that the same kind of malware was used in the attacks against both Krebs and Dyn.

Mr Krebs is intimately familiar with this type of incident, after his website was targeted by a similar assault in September, in one of the biggest web attacks ever seen. But if the hackers' claims are true, Friday's attacks take DDoS to a new level.

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Right now, it remains unclear who was behind the attacks, but a tweet from Wikileaks yesterday asked its supporters to "stop taking down the United States internet". They said they organized networks of connected devices to create a massive botnet that threw a monstrous 1.2 trillion bits of data every second at Dyn's servers.

WikiLeaks supporter groups Anonymous and New World Hackers claimed credit for the attacks, stating it was retaliation for the Ecuadorian government's decision to cut off WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's Internet connection after the site leaked internal documents from Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's campaign.

Mirai infects internet connected devices. When used for the first time, the devices will now require the user to change the default password.

Dyn's chief strategy officer Kyle York told reporters on Friday it was a very smart attack. Attacks began early Friday morning, and after a brief resolution, resumed again later in the afternoon.

The collective has in the past claimed responsibility for similar attacks against sites including ESPNFantasySports.com in September and the BBC on December 31.