Major Cyber Attack Takes Down Twitter, Spotify, Reddit, and More Sites (UPDATED)

An attack on a domain host has left thousands of Internet users with slow service Friday morning.

Photo Removed
Complex Original

Blank pixel used during image takedowns

Photo Removed

UPDATED 9:05 p.m. ET

If you live in the Northeast and experienced some delays in internet service this morning, it wasn't just you, and you're not crazy.

A staggering number of websites—ranging from Twitter, CNN and Reddit to HBO Now, GrubHub and Spotify—reported that their service had been compromised. Simultaneously, a major domain host reported that it had been the target of a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack by hackers.

If you're wondering what Domain Name Servers or DNS is, Gizmodo posted this helpful explainer Friday morning:

Domain Name Servers (DNS) act as the Internet’s phone book. Basically, they facilitate your request to go to a certain webpage and make sure you are taken to the right place. If the DNS provider that handles requests for Twitter is down, well, good luck getting to Twitter. Some websites are coming back for some users, but it doesn’t look like the problem is fully resolved.

Dyn, an Internet infrastructure company that provides support to popular sites like Twitter, Spotify, and Netflix,  posted a statement to its website noting that it began "monitoring and mitigating a DDoS attack against our Dyn Managed DNS infrastructure" at around 7 a.m. ET Friday morning. "Some customers may experience increased DNS query latency and delayed zone propagation during this time," it added, though by 9:30 a.m. ET the issue had largely been resolved.

It is believed hackers were able to launch the DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack was made possible using "the Internet of Things," wrote cybersecurity blogger Brian Krebs on his blog Krebs on Security. The Internet of Things is internet connectivity on things from everyday items to (non-computer) machines. Today's attack was reportedly done through CCTV video cameras and digital recorders.

Hackers were able to access these items, infect them with malware, and gain control over them. A large group of those infected Internet-connected devices create a botnet. With the control of this large net of devices, hackers were able to execute the DDoS, which is when systems overload traffic on sites, preventing users from accessing them.

Researchers at security firm Flashpoint said the items used for the hack were digital video recorders (DVRs) and IP cameras, according to Krebs. The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI are investigating the attack.

Latest in Life