Newspaper websites victims of cyber attack
October 21, 2016
The Steamboat Today and Craig Daily Press websites were down for several hours Friday due to a cyber attack.
Most users were unable to access the newspapers’ websites between about 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
Other major websites were impacted by the attack, including Twitter, Netflix and PayPal.
The White House described the disruption as malicious. Members of a hacker group spread across China and Russia claimed responsibility, though their assertion couldn’t be verified.
Manchester, New Hampshire-based Dyn Inc. said its server infrastructure was hit by distributed denial-of-service attacks, which work by overwhelming targeted machines with junk data traffic. The attack had knock-on effects for users trying to access popular websites from across the United States and even in Europe.
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The level of disruption was difficult to gauge, but Dyn provides internet traffic management and optimization services to some of the biggest names on the web. Critically, Dyn provides domain name services, which translate the human-readable addresses such as “twitter.com” into an online route for browsers and applications. They also translate for SteamboatToday.com and CraigDailyPress.com.
Steve Grobman, chief technology officer at Intel Security, compared an outage at a domain name services company to tearing up a map or turning off GPS before driving to the department store.
“It doesn’t matter that the store is fully open or operational if you have no idea how to get there,” he said in a telephone interview.
Members of a shadowy hacker collective that calls itself New World Hackers claimed responsibility for the attack via Twitter. They said they organized networks of connected “zombie” computers that threw a staggering 1.2 terabits per second of data at the Dyn-managed servers.
“We didn’t do this to attract federal agents, only test power,” two collective members who identified themselves as “Prophet” and “Zain” told an AP reporter via Twitter direct message exchange. They said more than 10 members participated in the attack. It was not immediately possible to verify the claim.
Dyn officials said they did not know who was behind the attacks or if they were orchestrated by a state-backed group or online activists or pranksters. They said they have received no claim of responsibility, but are working with law enforcement.
The collective, @NewWorldHacking on Twitter, has, in the past, claimed responsibility for similar attacks against sites including ESPNFantasySports.com in September and the BBC on Dec. 31. The attack on the BBC marshalled half the computing power of Friday’s onslaught.
The collective has also claimed responsibility for cyberattacks against Islamic State. The two said about 30 people have access to the @NewWorkdHacking Twitter account. They said 20 are in Russia and 10 in China. “Prophet” said he is in India. “Zain” said he is in China. The two claimed to be taking “good actions.”
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is monitoring the situation, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters Friday. He said he had no information about who may be behind the disruption.