The DDoS Attacks Heard ‘Round The World
After a weekend where Twitter, Netflix, Paypal and Spotify — among a laundry list of others — became the victims of two significant DDoS attacks that brought down each respective website, it’s looking toward the presidential election that instills doubt and anxiety.
A DDoS attack or Distributed Denial of Service is seemingly a massive influx of traffic from multiple infected sources that flood a target until it is rendered useless for the time being. Officials and cyber security experts are still unsure who the culprit of this attack is, but have identified that the software used, Mirai, operates from malware infecting smart devices.
From smart refrigerators to DVR cable boxes and smart baby monitors, Mirai searches for vulnerable IoT (Internet of Things) devices that haven’t been customized from their default settings. Once a device has been found and targeted, it becomes what is known as a “zombie” device — essentially now a puppet for the cause. Millions of devices were compromised and were used to turn against Dyn DNS, a backbone of how internet URLs are interpreted and received.
So, now that your favorite websites and applications have taken a cyber beating courtesy of your own personal smart devices, let’s take a look at how realistic it may be to expect a forthcoming cyber attack on November 8th, Election Day.
What Kind Of Election Scams Should You Expect?
With the election looming near, the focus shifts to the potential of an attack affecting election day results. But fear not, as cyber security experts are quick to point out that since the voting system is decentralized — meaning that each state’s voting system is autonomous and inherently different — the likelihood of an attack affecting poll results is extremely unlikely.
While voters won’t need to be wary of an attack affecting election results, they will need to keep a watchful eye on their email inboxes. Election phishing scams are the next wave of hacker-driven incursions that could potentially put a damper on a voter’s day / week / month / year.
A phishing scam is one where an impostor / fabricated email message is delivered to a user’s inbox. The email message itself may not be harmful, but the hyperlinks inserted into the content may contain trojans or malware that can affect the email account and the device being used. The email message itself generally appears to be legitimate and isn’t easily identifiable with its maligned agenda.
Phishing scams may soon come in the form of Clinton and Trump campaign support messages or even general election statistics / information. It’s important to never use or click the links within an email message that you’re hesitant of, especially if the sender is unknown.
Also, the sites referenced within the phishing emails often ask for personal information. Never submit your personal information to these websites or in response to the emails received. If you’re entirely unsure of an email’s intentions, use a separate web browser to do some research before opening or simply delete the email altogether.
It’s also important to understand that sensitive information should never be shared across standard email platforms. Secure email solutions are designed just for that purpose; always use a secure email solution when communicating messages that contain personally identifiable information (credit card numbers / social security numbers / addresses).
Written by Peter J. Schaub
President & CEO, NeoCertified