On Friday (Oct. 21), many of us were faced with frustration and then concern when we were unable to access or utilize many of the sites we frequent, and even rely on. The distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack on the internet domain directory Dyn caused a ripple of disruption to websites of all sorts of industries — GitHub, Netflix, Twitter, Walgreens, The New York Times, PayPal. The magnitude of this DDoS attack was on an historic level.
Despite that magnitude of disruption, no information of much value was stolen. In fact, the hacker group responsible said that the issues incurred were just a dry run and that its sights are set on a bigger target. Specifically, it said it has insight through Internet Of Things devices it can manipulate to take next steps.
Besides inciting fear, why did hackers do it? What’s the motivation behind such disruption, frustration and scare?
You guessed it: financial gain.
New World Hackers is claiming credit, but other experts are throwing that out, calling them “impostors.” The group proudly said it orchestrated networks of connected devices to aggregate into a massive botnet in order to throw 1.2 terabits of data every second at Dyn's servers. Dyn wouldn't confirm the occurrence.
Regardless of who the hackers are, the aim for attacks like these is a blackmail tactic: hackers demanding payments in order to ward off issues and maintain protection. Sometimes, hacking doesn't even have to fully occur for the blackmail “protection payment” to occur, but rather, messages are transmitted, yielding tens of thousands of dollars.
As a result of the Dyn attack, some banks and companies have already begun to stockpile bitcoin in order to ward off — and pay off — any future attacks.
Because bitcoin is a virtual currency that cannot be traced, cybercriminals highly and especially appreciate its value.
But the financial gain, some say, runs deeper. Experts say that, sometimes, competition of one business will hire hackers to go after the other's sites and systems. There are “booter” portals — with thousands of subscribers — that allow companies to hire a hacker for a matter of minutes or for a project.
Typically, the ways those hackers are paid are either by bitcoin or by PayPal.
Experts say that this recent hack, however, was likely not orchestrated by a competitor of Dyn. They also say that, regardless of whether New World Hackers is behind the attack or not, the concept of 1.2 terabits of data per second thrown at Dyn’s servers is not only perplexing but plausible, too, as some experts think it could actually be a band of smart kids just playing around.
Either way, the bottom line is that these hackers are after their own bottom line in the end.