IT experts are still trying to unravel a massive cyber attack on America’s east coast and in Europe on Friday that disabled some of the world’s most-visited websites.
Newspapers, retailers, social media networks, music distributors and payment systems all fell foul of denial of service attacks for several hours.
Experts say they are just the latest attacks in what appears to be a person or persons unknown testing the internet’s defence systems and probing for ways into its infrastructure, this time targeting one of the most important providers, Dyn.
The attackers used hundreds of thousands of internet-connected devices that had previously been infected with a malicious code that allowed them to cause outages that began in the Eastern United States and then spread to other parts of the country and Europe.
“The complexity of the attacks is what’s making it very challenging for us,” said Dyn’s chief strategy officer, Kyle York. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation said they were investigating.
The disruptions come at a time of unprecedented fears about the cyber threat in the United States, where hackers have breached political organizations and election agencies.
Friday’s outages were intermittent and varied by geography. Users complained they could not reach dozens of internet destinations including Mashable, CNN, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Yelp and some businesses hosted by Amazon.com Inc.
Dyn said attacks were coming from millions of internet addresses, making it one of the largest attacks ever seen. Security experts said it was an especially potent type of distributed denial-of-service attack, or DDoS, in which attackers flood the targets with so much junk traffic that they freeze up.
No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks, according to researchers.