Hackers unleashed a wide-ranging and complex attack in the US that quickly spread globally

 
Oliver Gill
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Some of the world's most popular websites were impacted (Source: Getty)

Yesterday's complex cyber attack was orchestrated by hackers accessing thousands of internet-connected devices, such as webcams and digital recorders, that had previously been infected with malicious code.

An infrastructure company called Dyn, which effectively acts as a switchboard for internet traffic, was targeted by hackers and led to access to the websites of companies around the world being cut.

“The complexity of the attacks is what’s making it very challenging for us,” said Kyle York, chief strategy officer at Dyn.

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The outages began on the east coast, spread to the rest of North America and then hit Europe. They were intermittent, varied geographically and meant a wide range of websites – from news to shopping, social media to online payment companies – could not be accessed.

Dyn said that the attacks were coming from millions of different internet addresses, through an especially potent type of distributed denial of access – or DDoS – where attackers flood targets with large amounts of junk traffic so that sites simply freeze up.

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Yesterday evening, Amazon’s web services division reported temporary interference to western Europe users, meanwhile Twitter and other news sites couldn’t accessed by users in London yesterday evening.

PayPal said that some customers had been unable to make payments but underlined that its own network had not been hacked.

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