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Twitter, Netflix and Playstation affected by "malicious" cyberattack

A distributed denial-of-service attack meant some of the world’s most popular websites could not be accessed.

Image: Elise Amendola

CYBERATTACKS on a key internet firm repeatedly disrupted the availability of popular websites across the globe, according to analysts and company officials.

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 America and Europe.

Among the sites affected were Twitter, Netflix, and Sony’s PlayStation Network.

Dyn provides internet traffic management and optimisation services to some of the biggest names on the web, including Twitter, Netflix and Visa.

Attack

Critically, the firm provides domain name services, which translate the human-readable addresses such as “twitter.com” into an online route for browsers and applications.

The White House described the attack as “malicious”.

2/2/2013 Hackers attack 250,000 Twitter Accounts Twitter wasn't working for millions of users worldwide. Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

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.

He said:

It doesn’t matter that the store is fully open or operational if you have no idea how to get there.

Jason Read, founder of the internet performance monitoring firm CloudHarmony, owned by Gartner Inc., said his company tracked a half-hour-long disruption in which roughly one in two end users would have found it impossible to access various websites.

Read said: ”It’s been pretty busy for those guys. We’ve been monitoring Dyn for years and this is by far the worst outage event that we’ve observed. It impacted quite a few users.”

For James Norton, the former deputy secretary at the Department of Homeland Security who now teaches on cybersecurity policy at Johns Hopkins University, the incident was an example of how attacks on key junctures in the network can yield massive disruption.

“I think you can see how fragile the internet network actually is,” he said.

With reporting by AP

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