When a tremor wobbles the ground underneath your feet, it's easy to keep your head down, keep typing, do whatever it is you were already doing. Perhaps someone just dropped something very heavy a ways away, that's all.
But if you do keep your head down and the tremor turns out to be more than that — if it turns out to be a sign of some greater calamity headed your way — it's hard to blame anyone but yourself, right?
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This is not a story about tremors, but it is perhaps a story about warning signs of a more dangerous internet, the latest of which involves a hacker or group of hackers offering to cripple the digital life of any website or organization or person to anyone who can afford their services .
A man uses a laptop, the monitor of which is open to a hacking program.
Image: Silas Stein/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
This person or group, who go by the names BestBuy and Popopret, recently spammed an ad to folks on Jabber, an instant messaging service. They offered to perform a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on whomever their client(s) wanted, and they backed up their offer by claiming to wield the ability to perform some of the strongest DDoS attacks ever seen. Recent events in the history of the internet show us that these kind of attacks — if these hackers indeed have the power they claim — can wreak internet havoc by blocking user access to a range of some of the web's most popular destinations. Slowly but steadily, we've begun to understand just how disruptive they can be, and, now that the tools to launch such attacks are available to the public , we're starting to see just how often they can be deployed.
"Are we going to see more of this?" asked Justin Fier, the director of cyber intelligence and analysis at Darktrace, a cybersecurity firm. "Absolutely."
One of the biggest internet tremors felt or read about happened back in September. Then, one of the largest DDoS attacks ever recorded blasted kresbsonsecurity.com , the home of independent cybersecurity journalist Brian Krebs.
In some sense, after the initial chaos and probable anxiety the attack caused, the attack's target may have been a little bit of a blessing. Krebs (for obvious reasons) took an interest in the attack that tried to knock him offline, and through him and other outlets this growing phenomena began to be illuminated.
DDoS attacks have been around for a long time, but this one was different in notable ways. First, this DDoS attack wielded the power of "internet of things" devices, not compromised servers, as is more traditional. Internet of things devices comprise many of the things around us all the time — temperature control devices, smart refrigerators, CCTV cameras, to name just three. Those devices are almost always poorly secured, meaning hackers can break into thousands of them and use them to send junk data at one website, blocking normal users just trying to log onto that same site as they go about their daily business.
And if the attack on Krebs's site was an initial tremor felt or heard about by many, a much larger tremor was felt by many not long after.