The Dyn DDoS is a Reminder of the Need for Hardened Network Security
When the first computer networks were connected, it’s unlikely the engineers had any idea of what was to come. Today, with the ubiquity of the Internet and digital electronic devices, a world without networks and instant global reach seems almost entirely foreign. While these systems power the connectivity of our smartphones and let us watch funny videos online, they also do much more.
Our digital infrastructure forms the backbone of modern financial institutions, power production, industry, and much more. Computers play a fundamental role in many sectors. To that end, safeguarding and protecting this infrastructure from exploitation is incredibly critical.
The recent and unprecedented attack on American DNS servers by an as-yet-unknown entity proves the importance of improving the resilience of critical infrastructure. First, the attack used a botnet created by the “Internet of Things,” web-enabled devices lacking in any real security at all. This problem has been brewing for several years. Now, we regularly see the Mirai botnet launching massive denial-of-service attacks. Improving the underlying security of our devices should be a top priority for all manufacturers and technology companies.
The recent attack is also unique in itself. By targeting a major domain name server provider, the attack could take many major websites offline in broad swaths of the US for hours. Though the provider deployed successful mitigation tactics late in the day, significant disruption still occurred. The potential for economic loss from such an attack is difficult to ascertain. Even so, it raises the specter of what a similar attack targeting the power grid or banking communications could accomplish.
Rather than indulge in fear over these potential threats, though, our efforts should focus on maintaining and improving the ability of our systems to withstand and endure these attacks. If step one is working to secure devices so that such attacks are less likely, step two is improving the infrastructure itself. From hardening security to prevent intrusions to adding better hardware capabilities, there are plenty of avenues for accomplishing this. Enhancing the ability to mitigate the onslaught of DDoS events goes hand in hand with hardening device security.
While the ability to quickly recover from an attack is necessary, preventing the attacks in the first place takes priority. Tech firms, the government, and critical institutions must all work together to determine the best methods for boosting our networks’ resiliency to malicious action. Turning to the problem now enables everyone to be safer in the future.