Someone attacked a key part of the Internet’s infrastructure Friday morning, causing some major services such as Paypal, Twitter, Spotify and Airbnb to be inaccessible for many users.
The attack initially targeted Dyn, a company that helps people connect to websites, with a huge amount of traffic in an attempt to knock the service offline, according to Dyn’s director of internet analysis, Doug Madory. The digital assault appears to have started around 7:30 a.m. ET, and Dyn said it was resolved at roughly 9:20 a.m.
Following the attack and resolution at Dyn, a second attack began around an hour later. As of the time of this report, the outages continue.
The service Dyn provides is called the Domain Name System. It works sort of like a phone book for the Internet – it translates URLs into the numerical IP addresses for the servers that actually host sites so your browser can connect to them.
This type of attack is commonly known as a distributed denial of service, or DDoS attack. The effects of the attack were intermittent, and many of the details remain scarce, although it appears to have primarily affected users on the East Coast, according to Dyn.
Madory said that the company may have been the target of a similar type of attack as the one that hit journalist Brian Krebs earlier this year. In that case, someone hijacked unprotected Internet-connected devices like webcams to bombard his site with record levels of traffic.
Dyn provided assistance to Krebs while he was investigating the attack and recently presented research on the case – which may have caused the service to be targeted, according to Madory, as cited by the Chicago Tribune.
It still isn’t clear where that cyber attack originated or when or how it was likely to stop.