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Cyber Attacks led to the shutdown of Twitter and other Websites in US East Coast

A DDoS attack is an attempt to make an online service unavailable by overwhelming it with traffic from multiple sources

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Washington, October 22, 2016: Twitter and some other major websites were shut down on the US East Coast for several hours on Friday as anAmerican Internet service provider called Dyn and Amazon’s web services unit were hit by waves of cyber attacks.
Dyn, headquartered in New Hampshire, said in posts on its website that its Domain Name System (DNS) infrastructure suffered a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack starting at 7:10 am EDT (4.40 pm Indian Standard Time), Xinhua news reported.

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A DDoS attack is an attempt to make an online service unavailable by overwhelming it with traffic from multiple sources, and the company said the attack is “mainly impacting US East”.

About two hours later, Dyn said “services have been restored to normal”.

But it wasn’t over. The company confirmed that a secondDDoS attack took place at 11:52 am EDT (8.30 pm IST).

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“This DDoS attack may also be impacting Dyn Managed DNS advanced services with possible delays in monitoring,” it said.

In an update posted at about 2 pm (11:30 pm IST), Dyn said its engineers “continue to investigate and mitigate several attacks aimed against the Dyn Managed DNS infrastructure”.

Amazon Web Services (AWS), a unit of Amazon.com that hosts many of the web’s popular destinations including Netflix, reported an attack that also affected people on the US East Coastaround the same time in the morning.

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“Between 4:31 am and 6:10 am PDT (5:00 pm and 6:40 pm IST), we experienced errors resolving the DNS hostnames used to access some AWS services in the US-EAST-1 Region,” the company said on its website.

But this issue has been resolved and the service is now operating normally, it noted.

Currently, it’s unknown who was behind the attacks.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the US Department of Homeland Security is monitoring this situation and will take a close look at it.

“But at this point, I don’t have any information to share about who may be responsible for that malicious activity,” Earnest told reporters. (IANS)

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Twitter, Facebook Shut Down China-backed Fake Accounts

The recent wave of anti-government protests has prompted widespread criticism of the police for their alleged brutality against protesters

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As pro-democracy protests gain momentum in Hong Kong, Twitter and Facebook have suspended several accounts that were part of the Chinese government’s influence campaign and targeted protest movement and the call for political change in Hong Kong.

Twitter said it has suspended more than 200,000 accounts involved in coordinated inauthentic behaviour — including 936 accounts originating from within the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

“Overall, these accounts were deliberately and specifically attempting to sow political discord in Hong Kong, including undermining the legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement on the ground,” Twitter said in a blog post late Monday.

The company identified large clusters of accounts behaving in a coordinated manner to amplify messages related to the Hong Kong protests.

“As Twitter is blocked in China, many of these accounts accessed Twitter using VPNs. However, some accounts accessed Twitter from specific unblocked IP addresses originating in mainland China,” the micro-blogging platform added.

The accounts were suspended for a range of violations of Twitter’s platform manipulation policies like spam, coordinated activity, fake accounts, attributed activity and violative content.

The micro-blogging platform said it will also ban ads from China-backed media companies, for which it has already faced the flak from users.

Facebook said it has also removed seven Pages, three Groups and five accounts originated in China and involved in posting fake news pertaining to the ongoing protests in Hong Kong.

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The individuals behind this campaign engaged in a number of deceptive tactics, including the use of fake accounts, “some of which had been already disabled” to manage Pages posing as news organisations, post in Groups, disseminate their content, and also drive people to off-platform news sites.

“About 15,500 accounts followed one or more of these Pages and about 2,200 accounts joined at least one of these Groups,a Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Cybersecurity Policy at Facebook, said in a blog post.

“Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our investigation found links to individuals associated with the Chinese government,” he added.

Based on a tip shared by Twitter about activity they found on their platform, Facebook conducted an internal investigation into suspected coordinated inauthentic behaviour in the region and identified the malicious accounts.

Also Read: Apple ‘Bug’ Puts iPhones with Latest iOS to Hacking Risk

Since June, Hong Kong has been rocked by a wave of protests because of the extradition bill, which would have enabled fugitives to be extradited from Hong Kong to mainland China.

A mass rally in Hong Kong on Sunday, widely deemed the most important so far this month, attracted tens of thousands of people as the crisis entered the 11th consecutive weekend of anti-government protests.

The recent wave of anti-government protests has prompted widespread criticism of the police for their alleged brutality against protesters. (IANS)