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Cyber Attack Brings Down Internet’s Biggest Websites

Amazon, Twitter, PayPal and others are still reeling from the cyberattack last Friday that prevented access to some of the world’s most popular websites. Dyn, a major DNS (Domain Name System) provider in New Hampshire, reported that hackers triggered a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on the company’s infrastructure, affecting internet use in the U.S. and Europe.

Hackers used publicly available source code (malicious software known as the Mirai botnet) to send massive waves of spam from everyday devices – smart TVs, DVRs, webcams – to the DNS provider, rendering Dyn unable to function as a switchboard for the internet. A senior U.S. intelligence official said it does not appear at this point to be any kind of state-sponsored or directed attack, NBC News reported. On Sunday, Chinese electronics component manufacturer Hangzhou Xiongmai Technology said that weak default passwords on its products inadvertently contributed to the cyberattack, IDG News Service reported.

Although Dyn has resolved the incident, the provider urges companies to use multiple vendors for their domain name service, in an effort to reduce the risk of another similar attack. “We have advocated for years for redundancy in your infrastructure,” Kyle York, chief strategy officer of Dyn, told Reuters. “I don’t think you can ever be safe enough or redundant enough.”

Eric Basu, president and CEO of cybersecurity consulting agency Sentek Global, says DDoS attacks are generally beyond the capability of most businesses to control. However, Basu recommends that businesses frequently back up their work on a completely separate network or disconnected drive, mandate complex passwords and dual factor authentication to access any corporate resources and have a cyber insurance policy to include criminal activity.

“It’s important to have a layered network defense,” Basu told Counselor. “Train all employees in the accounts payable chain on typical wire and check fraud scams and have a documented policy and process with checks and balances to minimize the risk of these attacks.”

John Aspinwall, CEO of IDProductsource (asi/62088), told Counselor that his company takes extraordinary steps to maintain high levels of security. “New cyberattacks of this type are troubling and reinforce our policy of providing our clients with the highest levels of confidence when using our website or online services,” Aspinwall said. “Obtaining new methods of protecting ourselves is our priority as attacks of this nature get more sophisticated and cunning.”