Yesterday’s DDoS attacks on key US internet infrastructure made one thing clear: since its supposed origins in the 1960s as a distributed and thus resilient military network, it has take five decades to find relatively simple and inexpensive ways to topple it.
From a European standpoint, yesterday’s attacks were apparently no big deal: Medium remained up and running the whole time, and my Spanish homepage was difficult to access for about two hours, a problem I accepted philosophically knowing that the causes were nothing to do with my server and that there was therefore nothing I could do about it. But the map of the attacks, which caused access problems on sites like Twitter, Netflix, Spotify, Airbnb, Reddit, Etsy, SoundCloud or The New York Times, among others, along with its modus operandi, attacking DNS servers, makes it clear that it was trial run that someone is carrying out with the intention of pulling a kill switch that would close down the internet.
The attacks were actually foreseen by Bruce Schneier: a month ago the US researcher warned that somebody out there was working on a way bring down the whole internet. He linked this learning process with attacks on the page of another US researcher specializing in security, Brian Krebs.
Schneier has been warning about this since 2014: the exploitation of vulnerabilities not in computers, but in devices connected to the so-called internet of things such as digital recoders, cameras, baby monitors or home router devices.